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Republic of Ireland fans may face travel disruption as train strike planned for play-off date

Republic of Ireland fans heading to Dublin for the crucial World Cup play-off second leg may not be able to take the Enterprise train

FOOTBALL fans hoping to see the Republic of Ireland's crunch World Cup play-off against Denmark in Dublin could have their travel plans disrupted due to a train strike.

The team faces two matches in three days to decide whether it will make next summer's World Cup finals in Russia, with the critical second game at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday November 14.

A train strike took place yesterday involving staff at Iarnród Éireann, which operates the rail network across the Republic, with all services cancelled on Intercity, Dart and commuter routes.

The Enterprise service between Belfast and Dublin was also disrupted, with passengers forced to disembark in Newry.

More than 150,000 people are thought to have been affected by the strike action, part of a dispute over pay.

In a statement, Iarnród Éireann said strikes are also planned for November 7, 14 and 23rd - and on Friday December 8.

Unions have warned there could be additional strike days announced in the run-up to Christmas if the row is not resolved.

Talks broke down a fortnight ago.

Iarnród Éireann said it was not possible to provide alternative transport and refunds would be offered to those who have already purchased tickets seven days before the scheduled journey.

However, travellers will not be permitted to exchange their tickets for the equivalent bus services.

Translink said it had contacted all Enterprise passengers affected by yesterday's strike in advance, offering a refund or an alternative travel date.

"We will contact passengers who have made prior bookings online for Tuesday 7th November today. If the Irish Rail dispute continues, we will advise our passengers accordingly," a Translink spokeswoman said.

"Passengers can seek a refund on their Enterprise ticket and buy an X1 or X2 (bus) ticket if they so choose. Tickets are not transferable."

Translink has announced a 'bus special' deal for the day of the play-off match, leaving Belfast at 4pm and departing again from Dublin at 10.15pm.

David Franks, Iarnród Éireann's chief executive, has told staff that each day of strike action would cost the company more than "€900,000 in lost revenue and National Transport Authority penalties".

Unions are seeking annual pay increases of 3.75 per cent over three years, in keeping with rises secured by staff in Dublin Bus and Luas after strike action last year.

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