Travel misery is 'pretty well a guarantee' after rail unions' strike vote
Tens of thousands of football fans attending Ireland's World Cup play-off against Denmark next month are among those facing travel chaos after Irish Rail unions voted to strike.
About 155,000 passengers on Dart, InterCity and commuter trains will be left without a service for five days in November and December.
It comes after members of Siptu voted 84pc in favour of strike action in a dispute over pay increases.
The dates for the series of 24-hour rolling strikes include November 14, when the 50,000 sell-out football match at the Aviva Stadium will take place.
Other dates are November 1, 7 and 23 and Friday, December 8, which marks the start of the Christmas shopping season, when people from outside Dublin traditionally venture to the capital.
The strikes will have a knock-on effect for all bus, rail and Luas users, as well as motorists.
AA spokesman Conor Faugh- nan said it will cause chaos for hundreds of thousands of people, especially those in the greater Dublin area.
"If a major plank of the transport system is taken out, you can pretty well guarantee there will be traffic jams," he said.
"It will be really frustrating. It puts pressure on everything - including parking.
"It will add to delays for ordinary commuters, even those who haven't been on a train for years.
"It's going to significantly inhibit the country, especially Dublin."
Bus Eireann said it was anticipating increased demand on inter-city and suburban services and will try to add additional buses on busy routes.
However, due to the sheer demand, some commuters may be inconvenienced and people should book a seat ahead of time if possible.
"The November-December period is one of Bus Eireann's busiest, with students, commuters and visitors all availing of services," a spokeswoman said.
"While there may be capacity on some routes to cater for extra demand, there will likely be limited availability on others as all our fleet and driver resources are currently deployed."
Dublin Bus was also anticipating a knock-on effect.
Because morning and evening rush-hour buses are already running at full capacity, the company was not ruling out the prospect of passengers being left at the side of the road during busy times.
Luas officials were unavailable for comment last night.
Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny said the union's decision to strike after talks broke down on Thursday night was regrettable.
"The effect of this industrial action will be clear," he said.
"There will be disruption to customers and uncertainty over a prolonged period will lose us business.
"Employees will lose pay for days of industrial action.
"Our precarious finances will be weakened further, in a situation where accumulated losses are €160m and the company is dangerously close to insolvency.
"Our ability to address the pay claim will be reduced."
He added that the company remains open to talks with the unions to avert the strike.
The unions rejected the company's offer of a 1.75pc pay increase over a year. They sought a 3.75pc annual rise.
Siptu's Greg Ennis said that while the impending industrial action was "regrettable", union members believed they are left with no option due to the "procrastination" of management.
He insisted that the pay claim was reasonable.