Iarnród Éireann is to spend €3.3 million on upgrading lifts at 12 train stations in Dublin to improve access for passengers with reduced mobility.
The company announced it will begin a major programme of investment in lift replacement and upgrades next week in order to improve the reliability of lift systems and accessibility on the rail network.
The works, which are being funded by the National Transport Authority, are the first part of a new multi-annual programme to improve the operation of lift systems at train stations around the country.
New heavy duty stainless steel lifts will be installed at stations in Skerries, Balbriggan and Dún Laoghaire, while lift control measures and further improvements will be added to existing lift systems in stations at Malahide, Donabate, Raheny, Rush and Lusk, Salthill and Monkstown, Bayside, Tara Street, Clontarf Road and Clonsilla.
A total of 52 stations nationwide are scheduled to have improved lift facilities between now and 2024.
Iarnród Éireann chief executive, Jim Meade, said accessibility was central to the design of all improvements planned for new trains and improved station facilities being introduced under the National Development Plan.
“Improving the reliability and performance of our existing lift network is crucial to ensure customers with reduced mobility have confidence in using our services,” Mr Meade said.
He added: “While it is unavoidable that the works themselves will result in lifts being temporarily out of service, we have arrangements in place at each of the stations affected to maintain access to services during the works.”
The first station to undergo an upgrade will be Malahide with works due to start on August 31st.
Trains for customers with reduced mobility will be directed to platform 1 at the station until the works are completed.
Ramp access to both platforms are being provided as an interim measure to facilitate lift improvement works at several other stations.
However, wheelchair users of stations at Bayside and Clontarf Road will be advised to use other stations during the works with transfer by road being arranged by Iarnród Éireann, while those using Tara Street will be directed to use either Connolly or Pearse.
Iarnród Éireann said passengers with reduced mobility would be notified of alternative arrangements for the scheduled works periods at their stations.
Wheelchair passengers at some stations have faced regular difficulties due to problems with broken lifts due to their age as well as vandalism, misuse and exposure to the elements.
Campaign group, Access for All Ireland, reported last November that lifts at a total of 11 stations on the Dart network were out of order in a single day.
It also complained about the length of time it took for lifts to be repaired which it claimed ranged from three days to several weeks.
Figures released to Social Democrats co-leader, Catherine Murphy, last year showed seven stations had lifts out of order for in excess of 20 days during 2019.
Iarnród Éireann said it had recently introduced a new “Lift Call” system at 18 Dart and commuter stations which was designed to increase monitoring of access to lifts and to reduce the incidence of anti-social behaviour.
The system allows staff in control centres to monitor lifts at stations on the Dart and Northern Commuter lines and to regulate access to lifts when buttons are pressed to activate them.
“The systems have already seen a reduction in vandalism issues and facilitated arrests in incidents of vandalism,” a spokesperson said.