Overcrowding prompts more safety inspections on trains

Move follows complaints from Intercity and Dart passengers

Political Correspondent

Intercity and Dart trains face increased passenger safety inspections in the coming weeks after complaints of overcrowding.

The complaints have come from passengers on urban, Intercity and suburban routes and stem from reduced numbers of carriages on some services as part of cost-saving measures.

In response to a parliamentary question from Luke "Ming" Flanagan, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said the Railway Safety Commission (RSC) would monitor Intercity trains in the coming weeks.


He also said the chief executive of Irish Rail "has agreed to continuous monitoring of carriage levels on both Dart and Intercity services to ensure they match demand".

Irish Rail was reintroducing larger carriages where they were needed, Mr Varadkar added.

Wicklow TD Simon Harris is one of a number of deputies from around the greater Dublin area who raised the issue of crowding on train services.

Mr Flanagan, a Roscommon-South Leitrim TD, specifically raised the Dublin-Sligo service and the "reduction in train carriages [and] the dangers of overcrowding".

Twitter pictures
The issue of overcrowding has also surfaced on social media websites like Twitter, with passengers recently posting pictures of people standing on the Dublin-Sligo route during peak times.

The RSC will undertake inspections on Intercity lines. A spokeswoman said it had received increased passenger complaints in recent weeks.

The RSC and Irish Rail are to discuss the issue of overcrowding at their next meeting. The date of the meeting is not known, but they are understood to take place regularly.

Mr Varadkar said Irish Rail was undertaking energy saving measures to reduce fuel costs.

Fuel savings
He said this would save €3.2 million per year in "fuel and maintenance costs" and involved changing the way the fleet of trains and carriages was used.

“Concerns about overcrowding have been raised with the chief executive of Iarnród Éireann and I understand the company has responded and reintroduced large carriages to accommodate passengers where this has been considered necessary,” Mr Varadkar added.

“I have also been advised by the Railway Safety Commission that it has received an increased number of public representations relating to crowding and the matter will be discussed further with Iarnród Éireann at their next scheduled supervision meeting.

“Additionally, RSC inspectors will undertake some monitoring of Intercity train service over the coming weeks.”