[Irl-dean] Irish rail website

Tim Culhane tim.culhane at criticalpath.net
Fri Mar 3 15:33:53 GMT 2006


Just  to clarify my position regarding Irish Rail I have included the recent
corresponddance I received from them below:

Letter from irish rail dated 20th february 2006

I refer to your letter of 3rd February in connection with the earnrodeireann
website, www.irishrail.ie. We accept that there are problems with our site
for vision impaired customers at present.  The main problem is that our
central journey planning engine cannot coexist on both the irishrail.ie and
the earnrodeireann.ie websites.  We are very conscious of this shortcoming
and we are examining ways and means of correcting it. Given the current
workload of our IT department this may take some time but you can be ensured
this will receive high priority.  

yours sincerely

Melanie McDonagh
Accessibility officer

Here are my comments on the above:

Firstly, I feel that the letter is extremely unsatisfactory and comes close
to a complete fob off.  What they are saying is that they know there is a
problem,  and that they might fix it if they could only find the time!

They specifically state that the problem is due to the fact that the journey
planning engine cannot coexist on irishrail.ie and iarnrodeireann.ie.
However,  this claim is obviously  a load of rubbish.
Iarnrodeireann.ie  has nothing to do with the problem.  Indeed this website
is only a portal to other CIE company websites such as bus eireann and
dublin bus.  It is not possible to check train times via this website.

The problem is that Irish Rail have upgraded their main irishrail.ie website
and simply haven't bothered to change the text only, or visually impaired
version of the site.

It is obvious that these changes have been made without any prior
consultation with any of Irish Rail's customers whether they be blind or
fully sighted.  If any basic user testing of the site had been done then it
would have been clear that it is unuseable.

Now that Irish Rail have acknowledged that they are well aware of the
existing problem they should either:

Pull out all the stops  to rectify the issue (regardless of how busy their
IT department is).  I'm sure they would do so if sighted people were unable
to check train times.


If a solution is not possible  in the short term then roll back to the
original system,  while this was not perfect it was at least somewhat usable
by all of Irish Rails customers.

In the meantime they could then properly develop and test one single
accessible website.

Somebody on the list (who's name I can't recall right now and who has done
work for Irish Rail)  claims that Irish rail are very well aware of their
legal requirements and are eager to make their services fully accessible.

Well given my correspondance with Irish Rail to date I've certainly yet to
be convinced of this fact.

If irish rail  were planning on overhauling their  website, why didn't they
take the opportunity at that point of  dumping the text only website and of
developing one  fully accessible website?

And now  that they have  gone ahead  and developed a website which is
actually less accessible than it was in the past,  why are they saying that
their  IT department is just too busy right now to fix the mess that they
made themselves?

Apologies for everybody for the rant,  but if Irish Rail want to portray
themselves as a company who wish to work with us in developing fully
inclusive services ...  Then they better start rolling up their sleeves.



Tim Culhane,
Critical Path Ireland,
42-47 Lower Mount Street,
Dublin 2.
Direct line: 353-1-2415107
phone: 353-1-2415000

Tim.culhane at criticalpath.net

Critical Path
a global leader in digital communications

More information about the CEUD-ICT mailing list