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Dublin: 11 °C Wednesday 23 October, 2019
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Irish Rail presses ahead with staffless Dart stations despite local opposition

As Irish Rail staff retire or are promoted Dart stations will gradually become staffless as staff are redeployed.

90354866_90354866 Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

MORE OF DUBLIN’S rail stations are set to become staffless this year despite local opposition to automation and concerns around security. 

As Irish Rail presses ahead with its plans for 13 “hubs” along the Dart line, Clongriffin station on Dublin’s northside became staffless this Saturday. 

Solidarity councillor Michael O’Brien has criticised the move saying that Irish Rail failed to communicate properly with members of the public. “People are incredulous in the area,” says O’Brien.

“People are switching over to automated systems like the Leap Card so the need for ticketing staff is less. But I think people do feel the benefit of having a human presence [at stations].”

Irish Rail announced last year that 13 stations on the Dart line were to be fully manned at all times. These rail stations will now act as hubs. Staff attached to these stations will travel to other stations along the line to assist customers when necessary.

The 13 hubs along the Dart line are located at the following stations; Bray, Dalkey, Dún Laoghaire, Blackrock, Sandymount, Pearse, Tara Street, Connolly, Killester, Raheny, Howth Junction & Donaghmede, Howth and Malahide. 

Barry Kenny, spokesperson for Irish Rail, says that the move towards hubs, announced last year, is aimed at ensuring “better assistance for customers with mobility impairment”.

According to Kenny, this “hub station model” yielded more than 99.9% successful service provision in 2018.

Clongriffin. Clongriffin Dart Station, Dublin. Source: GoogleMaps

Last year, concerns were raised several times about security at Dart stations following anti-social behaviour on the northside line in January and an “”unprecedented” stabbing incident between Killester and Harmonstown stations in October. 

In December,  €115,000 was allocated by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to Irish Rail to provide additional security over the Christmas period. 

O’Brien says that station staff shouldn’t be forced to deal with anti-social behavior. But concerns remain that staffless stations could lead to a rise in this type of behaviour, he says. 

In order to ensure the new hub model works efficiently, staffing changes at Dart stations are necessary, says Irish Rail’s Kenny. As service staff retire or are promoted Dart stations will gradually become staffless as staff are redeployed. 

Kilbarrack, Killiney, Shankill and Portmarnock Dart stations have all been unmanned since 2017. Lansdowne Road become fully automated in late 2018. 

Kenny says that Irish Rail anticipates more Dart stations, like Clongriffin, becoming fully automated in 2019 but could not confirm which stations yet. 

“90% of customers are using automated means to purchase travel,” Kenny has said. “Our focus must be to ensure staff are providing assistance and customer service where it is needed, rather than a dramatically reduced ticket sales role which has changed through customer behaviour and technology.”

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