Iarnród Éireann rejects fears over fewer Dart carriages


REDUCTIONS IN the size of peak-hour Dart trains from eight carriages to four do not raise unsafe crowding issues, Iarnród Éireann has said.

The company said a number of trains at peak travel times had been reduced from eight-carriage trains to four “to reflect demand over the holiday period when passenger numbers drop”.

During the day, trains may be made up of either two, four, six or eight carriages, depending on demand, according to Iarnród Éireann. The company also said the reduction in train size was in line with its cost-reduction programme.

Responding to anecdotal complaints of over-crowding on morning peak services into the city, spokesman Barry Kenny said there was no specific figure to describe the number of passengers a carriage could carry. He said customers may expect trains to be “fully laden to European norms” which were “nowhere near Japanese or Indian norms”.

Mr Kenny said the options open to the company were to reduce services, frequencies or carriage numbers.

In relation to intercity services, he said situations where passengers were standing in the aisles and in the lavatories were “more rare now than they used to be” and the aim of the company was that each passenger should have a seat.

However, he accepted that at peak time this was not always the case.

Mr Kenny said there were “no health and safety issues” with people standing in the corridors and lavatories. Trains were designed to be easily evacuated. “Rail is still the safest mode of land transport.”

In relation to the Dart, he said capacities had been reducing since May “in line with seasonal demand, while maintaining the number of departures, to save costs on electrical power and maintenance”. Mr Kenny said that for the morning peak, from 7am-9am, departures from Greystones had been reduced by just two carriages to a total of 76 carriages. However, for the evening peak, from 4pm- 6.30pm, capacity had been reduced by 20 carriages to 66.

On the southbound services from Howth-Malahide in the morning, capacity had been reduced by six to 84 carriages. The evening peak on this route saw a reduction of 18 to 80 carriages.

In relation to reports of unpleasant experiences with crowds on smaller trains, Mr Kenny said commuter numbers were down at this time of the year, and the numbers were being monitored by Iarnród Éireann.

Anecdotal reports suggest some passengers are standing for their entire journey, while at some stations some intending passengers were standing back and awaiting later trains.

In the two years to 2005, Iarnród Éireann spent in excess of €185 million upgrading the service by lengthening platforms and improving accessibility for the disabled. Another €80 million was spent on 40 new carriages.

At the time, then minister for transport Martin Cullen described the improvements as “immense and permanent”.