19 million let train take the strain
Economic growth has helped to increase passenger numbers on cash-strapped Irish Rail with almost 19 million passenger journeys made so far this year.
After sharp falls in passenger numbers during the recession, commuters are returning to Irish Rail with numbers up 3.5pc in the first six months of 2015, compared to the same period last year.
Passenger numbers started rising again in 2014 after years of decline.
Irish Rail confirmed that the increase had continued this year, with 18.9m passenger journeys made across its services in the first six months of the year.
There were 5.78m passenger journeys on commuter services during this period, an increase of 2.1pc from the first six months of 2014.
There were 4.95m journeys on Intercity services during the last six months, a rise of 1.5pc in comparison to the same period in the year prior.
But, it was the Dart service which became significantly busier, with 440,000 extra passenger journeys made since the beginning of 2015 - an increase of 5.8pc on the first half of 2014.
Irish Rail bosses said the improving economy was among a "number of factors" which had contributed to an increase in passenger numbers.
The company, which has suffered financial woes and industrial relations strife in recent years, also said the growth in passenger numbers was helped by the promotion of online sales for Intercity services, Leap Card discounts and growth in participation in the Taxsaver scheme by employers.
The integration of the Leap Card with the National Transport Authority (NTA) and other transport operators was also highlighted by Irish Rail as a major factor in the increase in passenger numbers.
"The company has increased capacity on a number of services to meet the growth in demand, and has been operating additional services to supplement Intercity demand, including a new daily Cork to Dublin express service," a spokesperson said.
"The increase in passenger numbers accelerates the trends of 2014, in which an increase of 1.1 million journeys (2.9pc) on 2013 to 37.8 million journeys for the full year was recorded."