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WATCH: “Please do something…It’s difficult to breathe”: Passengers on Bray DART ‘disaster’ speak of ‘dreadful day’

Passengers who found themselves caught up in ‘distressing’ scenes while travelling on the Bray DART service yesterday afternoon have shared their experiences online.

It comes as Irish Rail offered an apology to customers ‘caught up in a very distressing situation’ while travelling on the Bray service on Sunday.

Irish Rail said the 1.45pm Connolly/Bray train was forced to stop on its approach to Bray when “a number of people forced open doors and walked on the track”. As a result, the railway company had to suspend services.

Some of those trapped onboard the trains have shared their experiences online, highlighting in particular the severe discomfort caused by the lack of air conditioning on board the trains.

Passenger numbers were massively increased by the annual Bray Air Show, and some were critical at what they saw as lacking of planning and a failure by Irish Rail to respond to the escalating situation.

“Absolute disgrace on the DART today. No air con, people having panic attacks. No windows to open. Absolutely ridiculous,” wrote one passenger, showing people piling out of the train.

The incident ignited a flurry of response online, with droves of people raising concerns about passenger safety and comfort on the DART, paying particular focus to the lack of air conditioning or openable windows.

Many passengers used social media on Sunday to raise issues about conditions onboard the DART service. One user took to Twitter to appeal for help.

“Can you please do something we are in the train it’s difficult to breathe please Open the doors!!!!” the desperate rail user said in response to an update on the situation shared by Iarnród Éireann.

One upset father shared a photo of his 2 toddlers, who he had to strip down to their nappies because they were “soaked in sweat” inside the boiling train – as temperatures reached 23C outside:

In an update later that evening, which followed an outpouring of support for the family, the father said while the family were ok, his 6-year-old was “terrified” during the experience, as he added he felt “really let down” by Irish Rail:

Another person wrote: “My mam is on that train and she’s called me panicking. Please open some doors or turn on the AC. She suffers with vertigo and will collapse.”

While another said: “Disgraceful. Those newer trains are horrible. Tiny seats knocking knees of strangers and no windows.”

Another angry Irish Rail user vented: “Your air con is NEVER ON. Some of train have NO WINDOWS. You put passengers at risk.”

One user on the train shared a video which captured the disruption and what one user described as a “complete breakdown of safety” by Irish Rail:

In response to some pleas for the doors to be opened, Iarnród Éireann said the doors had to be closed due to passengers on the 13.45 Connolly/Bray opening doors and trespassing on the line, adding that Gardai were attending the scene.

“Passengers are not permitted on the line as trains can not move, and due to the overhead powerlines,” the Rail company added, to which one frustrated user replied:

“There are people passing out on this train. Why not escort passengers safely down the line to the next station? Trains are not moving, therefore cannot cause harm to people. Being locked on board is not acceptable.”

One DART passenger described it as a “15 min journey turned into a 2hr nightmare stuck in a sweltering carriage”.

One Twitter user tweeted transport Minister Eamon Ryan, enquiring if a new fleet of carriages bought by Irish Rail could be ‘customised’ to solve the problem of not having any openable windows.“Passenger comfort/safety/health is constantly affected by this design flaw”, the user added:

The rail company said that Gardai attended the scene and that control had “alerted drivers of aircon issues”.

Explaining what exactly went wrong on Sunday, Ireland’s national rail users organisation, Rail Users Ireland, took to Twitter to describe a ‘dreadful day across Dublin rail network’.

The organisation said that the planning and licensing of the Bray Air Show on the same day as the All Ireland final meant that transport infrastructure and resources were pushed to the brink, and set the scene for problems. Secondly, the organisation explained that a signalling fault at Grand Canal Dock let to the service “getting out of step” and leading to an overload of trains.

They also explained that “passengers didn’t know what was going on” as none of the extra trains were listed online or in the timetable, and were not shown at stations.

The national rail users organisation said that action should have been taken as the situation started to spiral out of control. It blamed station management for the fact that as crowds grew, “no attempt was made” to stop more people entering stations, which led to large groups stuck particularly at stations south of Dun Laoghaire.

“All it then took was a short delay at Bray to trigger a reaction from already heavily delayed passengers travelling in close to crush load conditions in 25C with ineffective air conditioning. Multiple actions could have prevented this, but no one intervened,” the organisation said.

In response to complaints about air conditioning, the organisation ventured that the air con could have been switched on but may have been rendered ineffective due to poor maintenance.

In a statement on Sunday, Irish Rail communications officer Barry Kenny said yesterday was a “hugely busy day” with the Bray Air Show taking place alongside the All-Ireland football final in Croke Park.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, Mr Kenny said: “We obviously apologise to people that were caught up in what was a very distressing situation for many customers.

“It was obviously a hugely busy day, at 2.55pm, the last of what was nine additional Darts that we operated for the Bray Air Show was waiting for a platform just outside of Bray Station,” he added.

”On that Dart, a small number of people pushed open a door, notwithstanding the fact it was literally a couple of minutes until the Dart was going to proceed onto the platform. And once those people did that and were on the track, we obviously couldn’t operate any train in or out of Bray Station until it was confirmed that the track was clear.

“This then caused a knock-on effect because the delay became definite because the conditions were very difficult, it was very busy on board, and it was a warm day as well. Others then decided, because of the delay and indeed because of genuine concern, to leave the train.

“So, unfortunately what started as a short wait for a platform then caused that further knock-on delay for other people to decide out of genuine concern for themselves to leave the train meaning we had an uncontrolled number of people on the line.”

Mr Kenny also said Iarnród Éireann understands that the events of yesterday culminated in a “chaotic” experience for passengers, and added that it will be launching an investigation into the incident.

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