Additional reporting by digital Desk
Irish Rail has said it may have to introduce further 'pre-book only' services in the future as more people use the train.
Jim Meade, chief executive of the State rail company, said it is considering restricting certain services to passengers who have booked ahead because of overcrowding, similar to what it does for major events like All-Ireland finals.
While it plans to order 41 new carriages to cope with growing passenger numbers, they will not be ready for another two years, and Mr Meade has warned the problem may “get worse before it gets better”.
Mr Meade has said it will be 2022 before any new carriages are added to existing services, despite passenger numbers continuing to grow.
Latest figures show a 5.3% increase in all Irish Rail passenger services - up to 47.9 million trips – a record number on the rail network.
Mr Meade told RTÉ’s Prime Time: “I think we have to be honest with people and with the travelling public and say to them we will not have more capacity on the network for another two years.
“With the current growth patterns continuing, there is a risk, of course, that it will get worse before it gets better. The issue for us is how we manage that capacity and we have some initiatives going.”
Fergus O’Dowd, Louth TD and chair of the Oireachtas transport, tourism and sport committee, has rejected the proposal.
“It is absolutely unacceptable,” he said.
Whereas All-Ireland finals happen twice a year, Irish Rail is talking about implementing similar plans for services commuters use several times a day, which would “create tensions, create problems, create uncertainty”, he said.
Mr O’Dowd told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that he would be ordering Irish Rail bosses before the parliamentary committee within weeks to be quizzed about the plans.
While the government has vowed more investment in rail travel, the Fine Gael TD admitted “there are problems because our economy is growing and it is creating significant stress, particularly on longer journeys.”
Mr O’Dowd said the promised investment would “transformational over time” but added: “In the meantime, there is a lot of pain for a lot of people.”
Irish Rail spokesperson, Barry Kenny, said it will not become a feature on regular services.
He said: "We are at that point between when we are expecting imminent approval from government for an order for new carriages, but it will be two years until those carriages arrive.
"(Pre-booking) is something we will have to consider looking at for more events, it's not something we anticipate on a general basis."
Last month, Irish Rail launched a new website, peaktime.ie, in an attempt to try to persuade Dart commuters to stagger morning rush-hour commuting journeys because of it overcrowding problems.
The website allows commuters to check for less crowded trains. One in six of all weekday Dart journeys are made between 8am and 9am. Overcrowding is worse on north side services.
Mr Kenny said “it would be too early to say if there has been any pattern changes as a result of peaktime.ie and realistically any changes in travel patterns evolve over time, particularly if you consider that in some instances, commuters may have to engage with employers when it comes to flexibility in working time.”
Mr O’Dowd said the Oireachtas committee has been told “it would not be economic” to refurbish 28 carriages which were withdrawn from service in 2012 at a time of declining passenger numbers during the recession.
The carriages are lying unused at Irish Rail’s Inchicore depot in Dublin.
Irish Rail was quoted a €1.2 million per carriage cost of refurbishing them.