Shorter trains on track as rail chiefs bid to save €3.2m
RAIL passengers could be left without a seat on their way home because Iarnrod Eireann has cut the number of carriages in some trains.
The company has introduced two-carriage trains across the DART network at off-peak times and after 7pm, with further changes to be introduced on the inter-city fleet in the coming weeks.
The changes are aimed at yielding some €3.2m-a-year in fuel savings, but could result in commuters having to stand when no seats are available.
However, the company insisted the vast majority of passengers travelling off-peak outside of 7.30am-9.30am and 4.30pm-6.30pm would be seated.
"We have 116 seats on a two-carriage DART and the average off-peak loading is just over 100 and therefore the vast majority will have a seat," the company said. "Where there is standing, it will be of a low level."
Currently, some 65pc of all DART passengers travel in the four hours of morning and evening peak, with the remaining 35pc travelling across the remaining 14 hours. DART trains are four, six or eight carriages, which will be reduced to two between 10am and 4.30pm.
"In place of longer trains used currently, the company will increase the usage of two-carriage DARTs at off-peak times from mid-morning to mid-afternoon, and after 7pm, to eliminate unnecessary energy usage and reduce maintenance costs, while continuing existing service frequency to customers," the company said.
Capacity can be increased, and it will also introduce changes for frequently-used services, for example the 16.40pm DART from Bray to Malahide, which has been increased from six to eight carriages.
On the inter-city fleet, further changes are planned. There are currently 234 carriages in the fleet, which are configured to form 48 three-carriage trains and 15 six-carriage trains.
"This has led to capacity shortages on some services and over-supply on others," Iarnrod Eireann said.
It plans to reconfigure the fleet to form 45 four-carriage trains, and 18 three-carriage trains. This will allow greater flexibility, with three, four, six, seven, eight and nine-carriage trains possible as a result of combining train-sets together.
These changes will be implemented on a phased basis by the end of the year.
The company said the changes would allow train size to be targeted to meet demand, especially on heavily-trafficked routes.
Other actions which have helped reduce fuel bills include more efficient trains and shutting down engines automatically to reduce idling and fuel wastage. Changes introduced at stations relate to lighting and temperature controls.
The company said it reduced usage from 793,400 megawatt hours in 2007 to 526,800 in 2012, a reduction of nearly 34pc. Had changes not been introduced, an extra €16m would have been spent on energy.