Irish rail strike hits fans planning to take Enterprise service to Dublin for Republic of Ireland World Cup play-off
FOOTBALL fans who had been due to take the train to Dublin for the crucial World Cup play-off game between the Republic of Ireland and Denmark next week will now have to make alternative plans after confirmation that a rail strike is set to go ahead.
Iarnród Éireann, which operates the rail network across the Republic, is to strike on Tuesday, the day of the crunch second leg at the Aviva Stadium, and is not allowing bookings to be made on its website.
The strike will be the latest in a series of stoppages by staff in a dispute over pay, with a second day of action taking place yesterday and no resolution in sight.
It has meant that Enterprise services to Dublin on strike days have been operating only as far as Newry.
Translink has moved to offer refunds for passengers booked on the Enterprise service between Belfast and Dublin, as tickets will not be transferable for use on cross-border bus journeys.
All services on Intercity, Dart and commuter routes will be cancelled.
More than 150,000 passengers are thought to have been affected by the strike each day to date, with the figure expected to be considerably higher next Tuesday, when football supporters from across the island will descend on Dublin.
Strikes are also planned for November 23 and December 8, and unions have warned there could be additional days announced in the run-up to Christmas.
Transport Minister Shane Ross has called on both sides to return to the negotiating table and resolve the dispute in "a realistic, fair and workable manner".
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, but the company has offered 1.75 per cent.
A Translink spokeswoman said: "We have contacted passengers who had pre-booked to travel on Enterprise services on Tuesday 14th November, advising of the situation and informing them that they can obtain a refund or choose alternative travel dates."
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.