[Irl-dean] Irish rail website

Paul Walsh, Segala paul at segala.com
Mon Mar 6 18:27:28 GMT 2006

Hi Everyone,

I share your frustrations regarding the lack of real understand within the

Perhaps we could offer our help by providing high level independent advice
regarding the technical problems they face. Ask what it is they think the
problem is. This would force them to look at the problem at least.
Unfortunately rolling back to a previous build of such a implementation may
not be as easy as it should be so I wouldn't be too hard on them.

Personally, I thought their response was positive and friendly. I know this
could be a fob off but let's give them a chance to respond technically.
Perhaps you could ask them for a rough timescale for resolving the issues so
we can communicate this to the community? In a friendly way this tells them
that they'll receive bad PR unless they work with us.

I'm very sorry if I appear to be negative to this approach, I'm just playing
devil's advocate in the hope that we can make some positive change.
Unfortunately change is a very painful process to implement, especially when
we're talking about changing people's attitudes.

Kind regards,


      -----Original Message-----
      From: irl-dean-admin at list.eeng.dcu.ie 
      [mailto:irl-dean-admin at list.eeng.dcu.ie] On Behalf Of 
      Eamon Mag Uidhir
      Sent: 03 March 2006 18:21
      To: irl-dean at list.eeng.dcu.ie
      Subject: Re: [Irl-dean] Irish rail website
      Your rant is entirely justified, Tim.
      Shouldn't we all get confrontational with Iarnrod? As 
      they are a pretty clear and conspicuous example of what 
      can go wrong when people who don't care about 
      accessibility are in charge of resources and facilities 
      that are of crucial importance to people with 
      disabilities, particularly visual disabilities. Blind 
      people are a very frequent feature of public transport in 
      Ireland nowadays, thankfully, but it may be time for the 
      sighted public to know just how hard Iarnrod are making 
      it for them to take up and use this entitlement. I'm not 
      thinking of the excellent station staff I have observed 
      many times ferrying visually impaired people and their 
      guide dogs to and from distant platforms on the golf 
      cart, but about the smug crowd in the marketing and IT 
      departments who seem to imagine there can actually be a 
      higher priority than a customer who is completely 
      excluded from access to purchasing information.
      By confrontational I mean we could all individually fire 
      off informative rants to Iarnrod, to the Minister, and to 
      national news outlets, and do some virtual rioting to get 
      attention for the issue.
      Tim Culhane wrote:
      >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 
      >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
      >Irl-dean mailing list
      >Irl-dean at list.eeng.dcu.ie
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