Some Dart restrictions tonight with normal service tomorrow
Siptu hopes Irish Rail talks could resolve dispute on drivers carrying out train checks
Commuters on Dublin’s Dart line experienced shorter busier trains this morning.Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / The Irish Times
Dart passengers face further inconvenience this evening as Irish Rail will have additional peak capacity on trains while normal capacity trains will not be restored in full until tomorrow.
The statement from the company follows communications between Irish Rail and trade union Siptu over the issue of drivers refusing to make certain checks on trains.
Siptu said it hoped that talks with management at Irish Rail tomorrow could lead to an early resolution of the dispute.
It said the issue at the centre of the row related to drivers being unilaterally instructed by management to carry out maintenance work on DART trains.
Irish Rail said this evening that driver checks on couplers will resume. The “driver issue” led to halved capacity for Dart line commuters this morning.
“Additional peak capacity will be provided on Dart services this evening with the company working to restore as much peak capacity as possible,” Irish Rail sad in a statement.
Irish Rail said that there may be some shorter trains for commuters this evening but most will operate to planned size.
“Tomorrow morning it is expected normal peak capacity will be restored in full,” it added.
Siptu organiser, Paul Cullen said: “We have been working hard over the last number of weeks in an attempt to resolve this issue. We regret the disruption of services today which arose because drivers withdrew co-operation with a maintenance test which, until recently, was carried out by trained engineering staff.
“Siptu members have been carrying out the test on a goodwill basis since 24th September when we informed management that drivers would not continue to carry out maintenance work indefinitely.”
The company apologised to Dublin passengers this morning for the shorter, busier trains due to what it described as a “a refusal by drivers to carry out a coupler check before Dart trains leave the depot to enter service”.
This had led to a reduction in the number of carriages on peak trains to two and four carriages, it said in a statement.
The trains were “significantly shorter” in the order of 50 per cent of normal peak capacity, Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny said. It would usually run with a combination of eight six and four carriage trains. Mr Kenny said 75 per cent of trains were four carriage and 25 per cent of trains were two carriage. Trains on the northern commuter and Maynooth lines were also impacted.
Passengers on Twitter reported overcrowding on trains, not being able to get on trains, and longer journey times. Asked about social media reports of a passenger fainting on a packed carriage the company said: “We had one report of a passenger taking faint on a southbound Dart at Lansdowne Road Station this morning, who was assisted from the train, and declined further medical attention.”
The check by divers “verifies that an electrical connection is complete through the train when multiple Dart units are connected together”, Irish Rail said.
This check is needed because of incidents where drivers get false indications on door interlocking, it said. It said the need for the check was temporary .
Mr Kenny said the check takes “about a minute” as a member of staff goes to the rear of the train to open the door and the driver verifies that a light goes out in the cab. It does not add to the length of the working day, he said.
Last month the company reduced the number of carriages on off-peak DART services has as part of an Iarnród Éireann plan to save €3.2 million in annual fuel and maintenance costs. Dart trains had been either four or six carriages in length but this was cut to two between 10am and 4 pm and after 7pm every weekday.