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Irish Rail advises commuters to beat rush hour by switching train


Timing: Passengers boarding a crowded Dart at Tara Street station. Photo: Ronan Lang

Timing: Passengers boarding a crowded Dart at Tara Street station. Photo: Ronan Lang

Timing: Passengers boarding a crowded Dart at Tara Street station. Photo: Ronan Lang

Iarnród Éireann 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 call comes as the company admitted that new carriages, which could help alleviate overcrowding, won't come into service for at least another two years.

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

It 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 which services are less crowded.

According to Iarnród Éireann, one in six of all weekday journeys on the Dart is made between 8am and 9am.

"Peaktime.ie will show commuters who are in a position to alter commuting times how a change of even 10 minutes in some instances will find quieter trains," a company spokesman 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 are going back to college.

Iarnród Éireann said that it was 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 10pc on 2017 figures - with forecasts estimating numbers will further rise to 22 million this year.

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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.

Iarnród Éireann said the peak-time 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 that the company was expecting to place an order for 41 carriages in the next few weeks.

A separate order for the largest and greenest fleet in Irish public transport history will see 600 electric and battery-electric powered carriages delivered over a 10-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.

The €2bn 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 spokesman 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.

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

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