Following years of woe, in the wake of severe economic problems, job losses and cuts in funding, passenger numbers on Iarnród Éireann (IE) - the national railway system operator of Ireland are on the rise and apprentices are taken on for the first time in 20 years. IE operates all internal intercity, commuter and freight railway services in the Republic of Ireland, and, jointly with Northern Ireland Railways, the Enterprise service between Dublin and Belfast. Latest figures show overall ridership has increased by 2.5% in 2014 to 37.6 million journeys.
Intercity ridership rose 3.7% year-on-year to 8.4 million, while Commuter and Dublin area Dart services witnessed a 2.1% increase in passenger numbers, which reached 29.3 million. The strongest growth was on the Limerick – Galway line. On Intercity routes, Dublin – Galway saw the strongest growth, with passenger numbers increasing 6.4% to 1.1 million. IE says growth has been driven by a rise in promotional activity, with a substantial increase in online bookings and student travel, together with improving economic conditions, major events, and closer integration with other modes.
Whilst this growth has been matched by 13 positions as apprentice electricians, diesel mechanics, fitters and welders within IE being filled, the first such positions in 20 years. Over 1400 people completed the aptitude tests, with just 93 passing and 66 then being called for interview. The confirmed apprentices will now undertake a four-year training and education course.
As reported in the Irish Times in the current staff of 3,700 at IE only 40 people were under the age of 30. Those who successfully completed the course would be offered jobs with Iarnród Éireann, chief executive David Franks said.“Bringing new people into any organisation is its lifeblood and is essential for the future of our railway. Many apprentices who started here in Inchicore went on to occupy senior roles within this organisation.”
The aptitude tests, which dramatically reduced the number of candidates considered for the positions, were “very rigorous”, Mr Franks said.“We set the bar quite high to make sure we got the right people, so, subject to their doing a good job during their apprenticeship, they will have a future with the company.”