DIRECT train services along the country's newest stretch of line will be slashed from later this month.
Commuters living in Meath will be forced to disembark en route to Dublin and wait for connecting trains to get into the city at off-peak times and over the weekends, the Irish Independent has learned.
The move comes as part of changes to timetabled services across all Iarnrod Eireann routes which will come into effect from January 20 next.
While extra services will be provided on some inter-city routes, with faster journey times, direct services between Dunboyne and Dublin will be reduced, despite the 7.5km line only opening in September 2010 at a cost of €160m.
The changes will hit one in three services on weekdays, or eight of the 24 services. Passengers using the train between 10.30am and 3.30pm, and after 8pm, will have to disembark at Clonsilla station and wait for a connecting train to Dublin.
All 13 Saturday and eight Sunday services will also be hit.
Iarnrod Eireann defended the move, saying the new timetable reflected passenger demand.
"We have a range of changes in the timetable which includes more frequency on services, in particular from Dublin to Galway and Westport," a spokesman said.
"In some cases we have reduced services because of reduced demand. We have to generate revenue where possible, and provide services which reflect demand.
"Passengers will have to wait a maximum of five minutes at Clonsilla to change trains. The shuttle train is an efficient way of delivering the same frequency of services with fewer resources."
The changes to the timetable come as the semi-state transport company desperately attempts to cut costs to make ends meet.
The timetabled changes were first published last November, and have been out for public consultation since.
They show that journey times on most inter-city services will be cut by between five and 25 minutes in an effort to encourage more people to use the train.
However, some services will be withdrawn, including three off-peak services between Balbriggan and Dublin city centre, and one service in each direction between Galway and Limerick. There is good news for commuters in Cork with extra early morning and late-evening services.
The timetable changes will take effect from January 20. Further details will be available at www.irishrail.ie.