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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Leah Farrell via

'Absolutely shambolic': Commuters slam Irish Rail call for Dart users to stagger morning journeys

The PeakTime website was launched to try to reduce overcrowding on carriages during rush-hour.

IRISH RAIL WAS lambasted by commuters over a new service that suggested they take the Dart outside of rush-hour services because of overcrowding on peak time trains.

Records obtained under Freedom of Information reveal how angry passengers asked if Irish Rail wanted them to lose their jobs.

Minister of State Finian McGrath also weighed in forwarding correspondence from a furious constituent and asking what was being done about the “serious health and safety” issue of overcrowded trains.

The PeakTime website was launched in September to try and encourage commuters to be flexible about which train they catch in a bid to avoid crowds.

However, it met with a fierce reaction from customers with one describing it as “frankly an insult and very condescending”.

“It is the lack of departures and carriages that cause this overcrowding problem and [it] is an unacceptable level of service,” wrote the passenger.

Minister Finian McGrath forwarded another angry letter, which said the new PeakTime service was an “insult to the intelligence of commuters”.

It said:

Nobody would travel on those overcrowded Darts at those times if they didn’t have to and I’m sure that people who work flexi hours have figured out themselves the less hazardous journey times.

McGrath in his letter said he had “several anxious constituents” who were long time service users that had to “battle” for a place on rush hour trains.

In a personal letter back to the minister, Irish Rail chief executive Jim Meade said there were plans to add 41 carriages to the commuter and intercity fleet in early 2022.

A further 300 carriages would be added as part of the ambitious Dart expansion plan with the first carriages likely to enter service in 2024.

Meade said these “significant investments … were in motion to address the capacity constraints on our services”.

Much of the ire of Irish Rail passengers came to the company via email and Facebook with a number complaining the service was not even working on their phones.

“What an absolutely shambolic service,” wrote one user. “Actually cannot believe the neck of [them].”

Another said:

Of course I will just tell my boss to expect me when they see me. Change my roster to suit Irish Rail!

One furious passenger wrote: “Are you actually for real … please be late for work so we can fit more people on the train.”

Another lamented that an ambitious plan for Dart underground had not been implemented when it was planned during the 2000s.

“This is what happens when your politicians are morons who get carted around in limos,” they said.

Others were a little more constructive, with some suggesting Irish Rail should be talking to business owners about staggering work times. “It’s hardly [our] decision to travel at their horrible times,” they said.

Users also criticised crime on Dart services and the frequent breakdown of accessible lifts.

“What time are there less muggers?” said a passenger while another wrote: “Maybe try fixing the lifts so people with reduced mobility can actually use the Dart.”

The vast majority of the dozens of responses were sharply critical of the initiative, saying if their job was more flexible, they would already be taking less crowded services.

“Overcrowding is not the fault of commuters,” wrote one.

A spokesman for Irish Rail said the intention of the was to equip commuters who have flexibility to decide their travel time.

He said: “Iarnród Éireann fully recognises that a significant number of commuters have fixed travel patterns due to work, education or home life requirements, and for whom changes in time will not be possible.

“However, it has also engaged with business groups and the National Transport Authority on this issue, to highlight the benefits which can accrue to employers and employees from providing more flexible working options.”

He said one in six weekday Dart journeys were made between 8 and 9 in the morning, which was “particularly concentrated”. “[This] information may enable some commuters to travel at a time when there is greater capacity,” he added.

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