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Dublin: 11 °C Tuesday 7 July, 2020
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Irish Rail to try persuade Dart users to stagger morning journeys to reduce overcrowding

A new website will allow commuters to check what services are less crowded.

File photo
File photo
Image: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

IRISH RAIL IS to try to persuade Dart commuters to stagger their journeys during the morning rush hour in a bid to reduce the level of overcrowding on trains.

The rail company will today launch an initiative designed to encourage passengers who are flexible with the start time to their work or studies to consider using Dart services outside the peak morning period on weekdays.

Irish Rail claims less crowded journeys will be available to commuters through small changes in their travel times.

A new website being launched – peaktime.ie – will allow Dart users to check what services are less crowded.

According to Irish Rail, one in six of all weekday journeys on the Dart are made between 8am and 9am.

“Peaktime.ie will show commuters who are in a position to alter commuting times how a change of even ten minutes in some instances will find quieter trains,” a company spokesperson said.

The information on the website will be expanded in the coming months to include all commuter trains in the greater Dublin area.

The spokesman said the initiative was being launched to coincide with the busiest commuting time of the year as third level students were going back to college.

Irish Rail said it was only focusing on the morning peak as it was more concentrated than the evening rush hour.

On average 14,000 passengers travel on the Dart during the morning rush hour compared to 10,000 during the evening.

A record high of 20.9 million journeys were recorded on the Dart last year – up 10% on 2017 figures – with forecasts estimating numbers will further rise to 22 million this year.

A range of timetable changes was made in September 2018 to increase the frequency of Dart services between Bray and Howth Junction to every 10 minutes in both directions between 6.50am and 8pm.

Irish Rail said the Peaktime initiative was about maximising the return of the existing capacity of its 144-carriage Dart fleet for the immediate future as new carriages won’t be available to come into service before 2022.

The spokesperson said the company was expecting to place an order for 41 new carriages in the next few weeks, while a separate order for the largest and greenest fleet in Irish public transport history with see 600 electric and battery-electric powered carriages delivered over a ten-year period starting in 2024 for use across Dublin’s commuter belt.

It is estimated between 50 and 100 of the new carriages will be dedicated to Dart services.

‘Modest increase in frequency’

The €2 billion Dart expansion project will see the electrification of the rail network being extended to the Maynooth, M3-Parkway, Hazelhatch and Drogheda lines and will double the capacity of the Dart and commuter network in the greater Dublin area by 2027.

The spokesperson said the additional rolling stock would help to increase capacity on peak services as not all were currently using the maximum length of eight carriages.

“In addition, the finalisation of the city centre signalling will also facilitate a modest increase in frequency,” he added.

The spokesperson acknowledged that the problem of overcrowded trains was more pronounced on services travelling into the city centre from the northside of Dublin.

The National Transport Authority had examined the possibility of buying second-hand carriages as a short-term solution to address capacity issues on DART service.

However, a NTA spokesperson said yesterday that the option of procuring second-hand rail fleet “is not being progressed”.

It is understood that no appropriate responses were received to a tender process with part of the problem linked to the fact that Ireland’s railway gauge is relatively unusual and only found in parts of Australia and Brazil.

Meanwhile Irish Rail also announced it is introducing a later evening service from Dublin to Mullingar from September 30.

The existing 8.47pm from Connolly to Maynooth will be extended to serve Kilcock, Enfield and Mullingar on weekdays.

The new service will result in the cancellation of the 9.40pm service from Maynooth to Connolly and some minor time alterations to some late evening Dart, Maynooth, northern commuter and Phoenix Park tunnel services.

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Seán McCárthaigh

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