Irish Rail has apologised and will refund a 13-year-old passenger who described his journey from Dublin to Cork last week as "like a Third World experience".
Sixth-class student Zach McCarthy, from Blackrock in Dublin, raised concerns after his 76-year-old grandmother was forced to stand for the entire three-hour journey because there were no empty seats left in any of the carriages when they boarded the 7.30pm train at Heuston Station.
Zach, who was going to visit his grandfather, had bought his €32 ticket in the station and paid for it with his confirmation money. He said he understood the child's ticket would include a seat while his grandmother had used her senior citizen pass.
But after an announcement that passengers could board the train, "everyone rushed in a panic" on board, leaving no free seats when he and his grandmother boarded, he claimed.
He said every carriage was "packed full of standing passengers" including elderly people and a pregnant woman.
"We walked through every single carriage on the train. There were people everywhere lying on the ground. There was an elderly lady left forced to lie on the ground and there was a pregnant lady as well. She was holding her tummy and looked really frightened," Zach said.
"At one point, they announced the food trolley wouldn't be able to come around. I think it was because there were so many people on the ground. People were saying it was like a Third World country. It was awful and not a pleasant experience."
Zach, who wants to work with charities when he is older, said he was concerned for the health and safety of passengers and was annoyed no one offered his grandmother a seat.
"People could have been really seriously hurt if there was an accident or the train had jammed on the breaks suddenly," he said.
Zach claimed staff had told him they would find a seat for his grandmother, but never returned and he said he intends to now complain formally to Irish Rail.
A spokesperson for the company apologised for the experience and said Zach would be offered a refund.
"While standing can be the norm in some commuter areas, we fully accept customers have a right to expect a seat. We will get in contact with him to address the complaint," the spokesperson said.
He added that the Bloom Festival in Dublin that weekend had added to the congestion, but that all available capacity was in use.
Where possible passengers should buy tickets online and reserve seats that way, he added.