Irish Rail has yet to refund thousands of customers whose internet-booked train tickets were not honoured during last month's ­drivers' strike.

An estimated 20,000 passengers a day suffered disruption to their travel plans as train drivers instigated unofficial industrial action against the national rail carrier.

Services to and from Cork, Kerry and the west of Ireland were affected from 22-29 May in the dispute, which started when one Cork-based driver refused to work to his roster and drive a train which was being used for trainee driver instruction.

Up to 50 colleagues working throughout the rail network went on strike in solidarity and during the course of the dispute, the action escalated to include drivers servicing Galway, Westport and Athlone.

Although the travelling public were the main victims of the lightning strikes, many have yet to be reimbursed because of what Irish Rail calls "logistical difficulties."

Company spokesman Barry Kenny told the Sunday Tribune: "We are processing refunds to those customers who purchased tickets online but could not travel due to the dispute. We have emailed e-bookers and advised them that a refund will be issued in due course. While the action was ongoing, the company pro-actively advised customers that refunds would be forthcoming."

Kenny insisted the delay in reimbursing customers was due to "logistical issues" relating to the large number of people involved, adding that he hoped the situation would be redressed by early this week.

The company estimates that in excess of 5,000 customers are due to receive refunds.

The Cork-Dublin route was the worst affected by the strike. Online tickets for this service cost €33 single and €65.50 return, while premier (first-class) tickets cost over €70.

Passengers who managed to avoid the strike for one leg of their journey but were affected on the second leg are set to face even longer waits for refunds but Kenny said that if customers contact Irish Rail directly they will be dealt with in the shortest possible time.

The company has begun its public relations fightback and is attempting to repair its battered image by employing dedicated staff to chat to passengers, carry their bags and generally portray the company in a good light.

Teams of specialist train 'hosts' are now operating on the Dublin-Cork line and if they prove popular they could be rolled out across the rail network.

The meet and greeters are responsible for informing passengers if there will be delays and showing people to their seats.