Iarnród Éireann is to try and persuade Dart commuters to stagger their journeys during the morning rush to reduce overcrowding on trains.
Today, the rail company will launch an initiative to encourage passengers who are flexible with their work or college start time to consider using Dart services outside the peak morning period on weekdays. Iarnrod Éireann says small changes in travel times will ensure less crowded journeys for commuters.
A website, peaktime.ie, will allow Dart users to check which services are less crowded. Iarnród Éireann said one in six of all weekday journeys on the Dart are made between 8am and 9am.
“Peaktime.ie will show commuters who are in a position to alter commuting times how a change of even ten minutes, in some instances, will find quieter trains,” said a company spokesperson.
The information on the website will be expanded, in the coming months, to include all commuter trains in the greater Dublin area.
The spokesman said the initiative was being launched to coincide with the busiest commuting time of the year, as third-level students return to college. Iarnród Éireann said it was only focusing on the morning peak, which is more concentrated than the evening rush hour.
On average, 14,000 passengers travel on the Dart in the morning rush hour and 10,000 during the evening. There were 20.9m journeys on the Dart last year — up 10% on 2017 — and 22m expected this year.
Timetable changes were made in September 2018 to increase the frequency of Dart services between Bray and Howth Junction to every 10 minutes in both directions, between 6.50am and 8pm.
Iarnród Éireann said the Peaktime initiative was about maximising the return of the capacity of its 144-carriage Dart fleet, as new carriages will not come into service before 2022.
The company will place an order for 41 new carriages in the next few weeks, while a separate order will see 600 electric and battery-electric powered carriages delivered over a 10-year period starting in 2024, for use across Dublin’s commuter belt. Between 50 and 100 of the new carriages will be dedicated to Dart services.
The €2bn Dart expansion project will see the electrification of the rail network being extended to the Maynooth, M3-Parkway, Hazelhatch, and Drogheda lines and will double the capacity of the Dart and commuter network in the greater Dublin area by 2027.
The additional rolling stock would increase capacity on peak services, as not all were currently using the maximum length of eight carriages.
“In addition, the finalisation of the city centre signalling will also facilitate a modest increase in frequency,” the spokesman added.