Iarnród Éireann confirm catering services to return on Cork to Dublin route from early April
22 Feabhra 2023
Full tender process for national network to proceed, and vending machine trials to be pursued
Iarnród Éireann has confirmed that it will commence the resumption of on-board catering services from early April, on the Cork to Dublin route.
Carriage Food Services, which is a sister company of CCSL (N.), who currently also provide catering services on board the Dublin to Belfast Enterprise service under a separate contract, will provide a trolley service on selected services on the Cork to Dublin route from early April, building to all Cork-Dublin services within weeks.
With Cork to Dublin also serving the vast majority of customers travelling to/from Kerry (changing at Mallow) and Limerick (changing at Limerick Junction), 50 percent of Intercity customers will have on-board catering available, including Dublin-Belfast Enterprise.
In tandem, Iarnród Éireann will:
- proceed with a full procurement process for catering services across the Intercity network
- progress a pilot for catering vending machines on selected trains. If successful and progressed further, vending machines would be intended to be complementary to on-board trolley services
- work to identify further opportunities to enhance station retail and catering facilities
An Iarnród Éireann spokesperson said “we have been as keen as our customers to see on-board catering resume, and are delighted to be in a position to do so with this interim provision. We also believe that the success of the interim service will ensure that some of the inflated costs being quoted for full catering provision across our Intercity network will be reduced through the full procurement process.”
Catering services were suspended arising from COVID-19 restrictions for two years from February 2020 to February 2022. Upon the lifting of face covering regulations in February 2022, the company sought a restoration of services from the incumbent supplier RailGourmet. Ultimately, RailGourmet were not in a position to resume services due to costs and staffing issues, and withdrew from the contract in May 2022.
Since then, Iarnród Éireann has engaged extensively with market providers to restore an on-board service. Unfortunately, costs and staffing issues resulted in providers quoting prices to Iarnród Éireann of many multiples of the previous contract to restore full services. Within Iarnród Éireann’s current funding profile, and under public procurement regulations, this was not possible to achieve. Iarnród Éireann then engaged with suppliers on interim, partial options to conform with funding and procurement requirements.
While a partial service across all routes was considered, the requirement for multiple catering base facilities and a more dispersed workforce across all routes again saw this exceed available funding. The interim measure of resuming Cork to Dublin on-board catering ensures that we maximise the number of customers who can avail of catering within the funding profile and procurement regulations.
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