Irish Rail cuts off-peak DART capacity to save money
Number of carriages reduced in bid to save €3.2m in fuel and maintenance costs
Shorter DART trains have been introduced from today during off-peak times. There will be no changes to weekend services. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times
The number of carriages on off-peak DART services has been reduced 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.
However, this has been cut to to two between 10am and 4 pm and after 7pm every weekday.
The changes were introduced today and will apply to all DART routes.
There will be no changes to weekend services.
An Irish Rail spokesman said even with fewer carriages the trains are “absolutely not” expected to be overcrowded.
“We’ve looked at it very carefully. Even on a two-carriage DART you have over 100 seats,” he said, adding that the shorter trains should not experience the type of overcrowding seen during peak hours.
“The vast majority of people will be able to travel and get seats,” he said.
Iarnród Éireann saidcapacity can be increased during off-peak times to meet higher demand, for example, during major events.
“We can be more dynamic on meeting the actual demands that exist,” the spokesman said. “You can change the train sizes to meet that demand a lot more. On certain routes we’ll be increasing capacity and reducing it on others”.
He cited the example of capacity on the 16.40pm Bray to Malahide service increasing from 6 to 8 carriages.
At present 65 per cent of all daily DART passengers travel during four peak hours, 7.30am to 9.30am and 4.30 to 6.30pm.
The remaining 35 per cent of passengers use the service outside these times.
Iarnród Éireann is also reconfiguring services on its 234 carriage intercity fleet.
Currently there are 48 three-carriage trains and 15 six carriage trains. This will be changed to form 45 four-carriage trains and 18 three-carriage trains.
These changes will apply to all intercity routes with the exception of Dublin to Belfast, which is operated by the Enterprise service, and the Mark iV trains which travel between Dublin and Cork.
The company said that the reconfiguration, which will be implemented on phased basis by year end, will allow more flexibility to adapt to capacity oversupply and shortages.
Through different combinations three, four, six, seven, eight, and nine carriage trains will now be possible.
Since 2007 the company’s energy usage has dropped by 34 per cent, which has resulted in a €16 million saving.
More energy efficient trains, competitive tendering of electricity supply, reduced train sizes along with temperature and lighting control systems in buildings to prevent wastage are some of the measures implemented to achieve this saving.
However, part of it has also been due to reduced demand for services. According its 2012 annual report Irish Rail’s passengers dropped by 0.5 million on the year before.
The reduced carriage numbers will not be accompanied by lower ticket prices.
“We are in a very difficult financial position,” the spokesman said, adding that the company had to make cost savings in addition to maintaining or increasing revenues.
There will be no changes to Iranród Éireann’s commuter services.