Staffless Train Stations

22 March 2017

Dáil Question
No: 32

To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the rolling out of staffless train stations in towns such as Portarlington and Portlaoise on the grounds of safety and ensuring the personal customer service for older persons and persons with disabilities remains central to Irish Rail's operation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Brendan Ryan.

For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 22nd March, 2017.

Ref No:   14240/17

Answered by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport
Shane Ross


Staffing levels at train stations are an operational matter for Iarnród Éireann and not issues in which I have any statutory function.
I have however been informed that there are no plans to make either Portarlington or Portlaoise stations unmanned.
The broader issue of staffling levels at stations generally is under review by the Company, primarily in response to changes in customer behaviour.  ​
This changed customer behaviour is evidenced by the fact that the just 17% of ticket sales are now made through station ticket offices, with the vast majority made online or through self-service modes in stations.
The Company is seeking to enhance customer service to ensure that: 
More Intercity services are staffed to ensure customer service and assistance is available including for those with disabilities and older customers
Station resources are more focused on direct customer service in the station area, rather than confined to the ticket office area, with a mix of staffed and self-service stations as appropriate to demand.
Customers who require assistance can avail of this more easily.
Specifically for customers requiring assistance, Iarnród Éireann plans to confirm new pilot arrangements for mobility-impaired customers shortly, which will dramatically reduce the current advance notification period and ensure a better response when customers requiring assistance cannot give notice.  These new arrangements are being designed following extensive customer research, and liaison with the Company's Disability Users Group.
The Company has communicated with all station managers around its network on its plans, and is now working with employees to design local implementation plans.
 It is intended that the rollout of enhanced on-board staffing will commence this summer, with station changes to be phased over time.
 As well as liaising with employees and their trade unions, I understand that the company also held an open information day on these plans 7th March last to which all Oireachtas members were invited.