How not to impress a car driver

I and a colleague have a business meeting tomorrow in Dublin (final arrangements had to be left until today because of an unrelated matter). I (or my PA) made multiple trys to get through to NIR to book two tickets to Dublin – both of us got a permanent engaged tone. The plan was to go 1st plus at the cost of £124 plus 1/2 price parking whereas if I drive it would be £87.36 mileage plus tolls, no parking fees and the opportunity to get some cheaper diesel (the ordinary class cost would be £70 plus full price parking). I tried again after I got in from work and I got an answer machine. I then tried the NIR call centre, it couldn’t take my reservation and said the Enterprise office closed at 5pm. The Translink website offers almost no internet booking – all I can book is a special offer for the Enterprise which doesn’t begin for another six days. So I am afraid I have come across all Jeremy Clarkson, bollox to the environment I’m driving.

  • slug

    I never book ahead when taking the train. Just turn up and get the ticket prior to boarding. There will be plenty of spare seats in 1st.

  • binlid

    “I (or my PA) made multiple trys to get through”

    Oh, how the other half live.

  • “my PA” thats what I call my Mrs, a Public Address system. FD has your PA got a name? 🙂

  • Bemused (except apparently that name is now ‘reser

    I’m afraid Na has it spot on – Translink are utterly, unspeakably crap. Think how many times you hear Ciaran Rogan on Radio UDA grovelling over yet another debacle on the Northern rail system – the man must have his own parking space and coffee mug at Broadcasting House. I have to say (as a very occasional Enterprise user) that the one thing that shocks me about Fair Deal’s post is the one thing that always shocks me about the train to Dublin – the price. Frankly, if (like Fair Deal) I was going to Dublin on business (i.e. if I HAD to be somewhere at an appointed time) there is no way in hell that I’d take the train – once the outrageous lack of a proper motorway between the two cities has been remedied then the journey by car will be a breeze and howling incompetents like Rogan will be mercifully out of a job.

  • Occasional Commentator

    FD: bollox to the environment I’m driving.

    That reminds me that I’ve quit recycling. Belfast City Council delivered a number of colourful bins to our house with very little information on what goes where. Instead there was a small poster aimed at children talking about “Phillappa Boggs” (the name for the black bin) and other stupid names for the blue and brown bins. The descriptions of what goes into what bin were woefully inadequate and contradictory. Like where does leftover or out of date food go? Apparently different types of paper-based rubbish go to different bins, but again no details.

    Some day I’m going to hound those eejits in city hall to produce a readable and comprehensive set of instructions on what they’d like us to do, including a map of bottle banks and the like. But until I pull my finger out I’m just not recycling. And yes, I’m ashamed of myself, but it’s hard to be bothered when this happens.

  • wild turkey

    FD et al.

    Read it and … weep or laugh?

    Faster Than a Speeding Bullet Train
    Cutting-Edge Maglev Rail Line Boosts Pride in Shanghai
    By Edward Cody Washington Post Foreign Service
    Monday, May 17, 2004;

    SHANGHAI — Smoothly, quietly, but relentlessly, the sleek new train picked up speed.
    Reaching 100 mph, it seemed similar to the fast trains of Europe and Japan. But by 200 mph, Shanghai’s passing suburbs started to blur in the window. And at 287 mph, the top speed, passengers could clearly feel that their ride to the airport had become a streak into railroad history.
    “It’s great,” said Andrew Suan, 35, an investment adviser on his way to catch a flight for Hong Kong. “It’s better than Disneyland.”

    Shanghai’s new magnetic levitation train, or maglev, built by German engineers for $1.2 billion to cover 20 miles in less than eight minutes, has proved it can make an impression, even in a city that lives on superlatives. China’s biggest, richest, most advanced, most with-it metropolis has scored again, becoming home to the fastest and most technologically innovative train in the world.

  • hotdogx

    shit guys, ill never complain about Iarnród Éireann ever again! and hopefully soon well have the sligo-limerick-cork section open, would be nice to have the derry-sligo line open again, will it ever hapen though as it was the unionist government that closed it in the first place as it crossed the “brorder” Does anyone think this will ever happen?

  • St John Smythe


    If you have a car that uses almost 90 litres of diesel to do 200 miles, then you are not environmentally aware in the first place


    If I can be so bold as to borrow a phrase from Ghandi.

    What do I think of Northern Ireland public transport?, I think it would be a great idea.

    Translink have to be the worst transport company in all of Europe. Many second world countries have a better, more reliable system.

  • St John Smythe

    Occasional Commentator

    In the Antrim Borough, the Council have started to leave behind ‘contaminated’ bins, that is those bins which contain material unintended for that colour code. If Belfast City Council begin to do that, which I suspect they will, you have the option of putting everything in the black bin, which then goes to landfill and defeats the purpose.

  • Rubicon

    FD – Don’t stop at Translink – the whole public transport system here is in a worse time warp than our politicians and more lazy assed too. That ain’t easy!

    But – hey! You got to open a thread on Slugger to bitch about it. Perhaps Mike could do this for us all in need of anger management when travelling by public transport?

    Mike – you could market it as your “environmental friendly” policy (though it mightn’t be too friendly on the super-highway!)

  • Occasional Commentator

    St John Smythe: you have the option of putting everything in the black bin, which then goes to landfill and defeats the purpose.

    That’s what I have been doing. Of course, the councillors don’t give a damn about it. As suggested by the NI Government wiki, I’m thinking of putting together a Freedom of Information Act request to get them to give a straight set of instructions. I’d just ask for everything relating to saying what goes in what bin. But I don’t have the time (i.e. I’m lazy).

  • St John Smythe


    I have assumed you are going from Belfast but quite frankly, wherever you are going from in Northern Ireland, your car is environmentally unfriendly

  • Rubicon

    How about a standard thread?

    I’ll even suggest names – anything between “Singing in the rain” and “My bitch don’t ride”.

  • wild turkey


    from a freedom of info perspective, any suggestions of what questions, and crucially substantiating documentation, that could be asked of translink/nir regarding the culture of competence, continuous improvement and rigourous safety which obviously imbues NIR?

    suggestions gratefully welcomed

    by the by, for purposes of section 75, ie the equality duty, i do not think NIR is included

  • St John Smythe


    I have seen the sets of instructions issued by three different councils and they are hilarious. Pizza boxes are the wrong type of cardboard for the blue bin, milk containers can be recycled but their lids cannot be unless they remain attached to the container etc.

  • Stu

    I saw a sticker on the bus stop at Willowfield the other day – it looks like there is a forum for people to vent their frustrations about Translink:

    Transtink – A website for people who hate Translink – NIR, Metro & Ulsterbus

    Although I doubt it will have any effect… without an ombudsman to direct complaints towards, Translink unaccountably deal with all compliants themselves 🙁

  • St John Smythe

    Well, hell, if you’re getting it all paid for by the firm, why in the name of God would you take a train man?

  • slug

    “Well, hell, if you’re getting it all paid for by the firm, why in the name of God would you take a train man? ”

    I would prefer to take that journey by train as you can get on with work during the journey.

    Have you driven into Dublin? It is not pleasant.

  • Politico

    I’ll be on the Enterprise tomorrow aswell. The fares are an absolute disgrace.

  • 256sucks

    Yup the Transtink website is an excellent forum – at least to vent off your anger about Translink and their atroicious treatment of customers! Gives some good information on how to complain to Translink too… unfortunatley this doesnt mean you get a reply!

  • T Ruth

    The bus to Dublin is the way to go. On the half hour from Belfast to Dublin Airport from whence getting into the centre is easy and relatively inexpensive.Seven quid each way I think. departing from Jury’s Hotel beside RBAI. Its easy to hold a business meeting in the airport itself or in adjacent hotels. Bus returns on the hour to Belfast.
    Thats of course for those who have to pay. the wife and I thanks to “Free travel for the elderly” can just go to the station get on the train-get to Dublin,hit the shops,lunch in the Grafton street area-stroll back to the station,get a train and be home for tea.Life was never so good.
    I shall never read Fair Deals comments again without a quiet prayer of thanks that I never had to deal with the sort of pressurised life he leads.I am surprised he had time to comment at all.
    I am surprised also that he is surpised to find that Norn Iron bureaucratic organisations are disaster areas. where have he and his colleague ,not to mention his PA been all their lives.

  • Rubicon

    T Ruth – you’ve not been on the same coach I was. The driver didn’t know the route to the M1, he din’t know where the bus station in Newry was either and pulled over when he needed a smoke. Were you on Ulsterbus? I was.

    I’m glad you don’t pay and agree with the Irish approach to pensioners travel but just wish it could include health care too.

    FD is absolutely correct in pointing out these failures in public service. It just isn’t right when people take money and then don’t do the job!

  • Rubicon

    I think T Ruth may be referring to the Aircoach. £8 return from Belfast to Dublin Airport.

  • Yer Woman

    Finally, a Translink baiting thread on Slugger!!!
    I normally walk to and from work, but thanks to injuring my leg at the gym I’m having to rely on the *cough* “Metro” service until I’m given the all clear by the Doc.
    The bus-stop is right outside my door, and since it’s the summer months and the roads are relatively clear, a journey into town from my part of Belfast should take no longer than 10 mins….that’s if the Bus turns up on time…….

    I can safely say that, on average, my bus is usually 10 minutes late EVERY DAY. And during term time, well, you might as well just walk to work. No professional person can rely on this service at all, and the only way you can complain to Translink is via an email service from their website that they never reply to. A total shower of bastards, with thee moat surliest bus drivers I’ve ever encountered on God’s Green Earth.

    But, I have to say, the worst service that Translink provide is the 163a Unilink Service between Queens and Jordanstown. The buses literally just turn up as and when they please, so you’re either stood waiting in Belfast for a bus and missing classes/exams as a result, or stood waiting in Jordanstown, missing connection buses back to your home. A total disgrace.

  • smcgiff

    I think ye’re all missing the big picture here. Fairdeal has a PA and goes to business meetings!

    I honestly thought (hope this comes across as a compliment) he was a 20 something studenty type. Time for Slugger to post some photos or,at the very least,bios! 🙂

  • Animus

    FD – have you considered taking a second class train? If you get on at Belfast, you’re likely to get a seat.

    I find the Metro service excellent in my part of town, on time, etc. But when I worked in N Belfast, it was appallingly bad. I complained to Translink and received a reply and a four journey ticket (this was about five years ago). You can complain by post, you know. I’m sure they have a hearty chuckle at all of the complaints rolling in.

  • Nestor Makhno

    The most bizarre aspect is the complete contrast between Translink’s own marketing puff and the grim reality on the ground.

    You would think from their advertising (and their weird customer feedback reports that suggest 99.99% of people are entirely satisfied with them) that the Metro service is fantastic.

    I previously used it to travel a mere 1.7km from Rosetta into town – a journey costing £1,30 and usually taking 30 to 45 minutes in the morning – possibly the slowest and most expensive form of transport ever devised.

    I’ve given up in disgust and bought a bike. Journey time is now 7 minutes and the bike paid for itself in six months (and I can honestly say I have only been caught in the rain five or six times over the course of a year – this country is not as wet as you might think!)

  • darth rumsfeld

    well one myth exploded. I always thought F_D was the nom de guerre of Laird Lord, but since he obviously isn’t taking a taxi to Dublin I was in error

  • Moochin photoman

    I too have had a bike for the last year or so, its a great way to get about and yes i have been caught out only 3 or 4 times to get well and truly soaked. There are alot more cycle lanes now and with the buses being as late as they are i often have a bus lane all to myself to cruise past the staionary cars!
    On the point of cycle lanes…is there a quota or some sort of grant from the EEC for the creation of cycle lanes. I suspect that there is….why else would there be a cycle lane thru the “Titanic Quarter”?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Ah, great thread. I love whinging about Translink, for obvious reasons.

    Fair Deal – the Enterprise may be slow, but isn’t it still better than being forced down the rocky road to Dublin?


  • smcgiff

    ‘but isn’t it still better than being forced down the rocky road to Dublin?’

    Nice one!

  • fair_deal

    St John

    My car does not require 90 litres for a 200 mile journey. The £87 figure is the milage allowance for the trip not my direct fuel costs

  • Politico

    Translink are an absolute shambles. Seems Fair Deal must have jinxed the Enterprise for today as it was delayed for two hours this morning in Belfast, buses had to take passengers to Portadown to get the onward journey. On the way home stones were thrown at the train and the catering coach was shut!!!!

    I’ll be requesting my money back.

  • Politico

    To add the electronic displays at central were broke from 1500hrs onwards. One poor soul was stranded on my Derry train after the board told him it was going to Bangor.

  • Cynic

    “the one thing that always shocks me about the train to Dublin – the price”

    You need to get out more. Booked an equivalent journey in England this week for wife. Standard class, off peak, Apex ticket £64.

    A 200 mile, peak time trip on Virgin Trains, 1st Class booked 48 hours in advance…that will be £248 sir. You want a standard class ticket instead? Sorry, train full, you can’t book one ….but we will give you a free breakfast or sandwich!

    I will chance it with NIR any day. Anyway, all risk is relative. Has anyone seen the way they drive on that new motorway…scary!!!!