The plight of Mayo rail passengers often forced to stand during the long train journey to Dublin was described this week as unfair, unsafe and entirely unsatisfactory.
Mayo TD Michelle Mulherin (FG ) hit out at overcrowding on the Mayo to Dublin train service during topical issues in the Dáil.
The Ballina representative accused Iarnród Éireann of concentrating on providing a premium service for certain train routes to the detriment of Mayo passengers.
She said passengers in Mayo are paying a hefty price for their rail service yet face overcrowding on a regular basis, particular at weekends and when there is a high volume of passengers travelling to major events in Dublin, such as the recent Bloom Festival in the Phoenix Park.
She also said changes to Mayo's early bird service, to accommodate one of the Cork routes, were very unfair.
"The service being offered by Iarnród Éireann is neither safe nor satisfactory," stated Deputy Mulherin.
"There are many elderly people taking this journey and it is not acceptable for them or indeed other passengers to regularly face this situation."
“There is a clear need to provide extra carriages during high demand periods which Iarnód Éireann should be able to anticipate," she pointed out.
Deputy Mulherin criticised the recent changes to Iarnród Éireann's timetable for the early bird Mayo to Dublin train.
"This train from Castlebar ordinarily arrived in Dublin at 8.30am, which enabled people to attend meetings or appointments in the city.
"It has now been pushed back by ten minutes to accommodate another Cork train to the detriment of regular users of the [Mayo] train, including those who drive from my town, Ballina, to Castlebar.
"It would appear that Iarnród Eireann is intent on creating a premium service on some routes to the detriment of others. Where is the equity in that?“
A spokesperson for Iarnród Éireann said the company continuously manages the capacity on its services to provide optimum capacity but, regrettfully, there are occasions when demand is in excess of seating capacity.
"The company regrets any inconvenience this causes for customers," said the spokesperson.
He said Iarnród Eireann has already increased the seating capacity by more than 300 on certain Friday services.
He also said trains are designed to safely accommodate standing and certified to do so by the Railway Safety Commission.
"It is accepted by Iarnród Éireann that it is desirable from a comfort point of view that those travelling longer distances outside the commuter area should have a seat for their journey. However, the safety of customers is maintained in what is a controlled operational environment, unlike road transport," added the spokesperson.