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  • Northside East

Commuter fears are allayed 

Tuesday, 5th November, 2019 8:00am
Commuter fears are allayed 

BOOST: Investment in the rail network can’t come soon enough for Northside commuters. FILE PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

Commuter fears are allayed 

BOOST: Investment in the rail network can’t come soon enough for Northside commuters. FILE PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

Aoife O’Brien

PRE-BOOKING of seats will never be a feature of trains on the Northern Commuter line.  

That’s according to Irish Rail, which has moved to clarify a proposal to ban passengers from some peak-time rail services unless they have pre-booked seats.

The proposal emerged during a ‘Prime Time’ broadcast where Irish Rail chief executive Jim Meade said it is considering restricting certain services to passengers who have booked ahead.

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee, Fianna Fáil’s candidate in the Dublin Fingal Bye-Election, was among those to raise concerns about the proposal.  

However, Irish Rail spokeswoman Jane Cregan has now clarified what peak time services this proposal would affect.

“Pre-booking only services are only under consideration for Intercity services for major outdoor events such as concerts, similar to arrangements we already use for Intercity services for All Ireland Finals,” Ms Cregan told Northside People. 

“Pre-booking only for regular day-to-day Intercity services is not being considered at all, and pre-booking for commuter services such as Northern Commuter services is utterly impractical and will never be a feature of those trains.”

Irish Rail received a backlash when the proposal initially emerged with many people believing that this restriction would be imposed continually on certain trains.

Prior to Irish Rail clarifying its position, Senator Clifford-Lee said commuters were already being “let down” by overcrowded trains. She argued that restricting certain services to passengers who have booked ahead would not be a solution.

“Particularly in north county Dublin commuters regularly tell me that they are unable to get a seat on the way home,” Senator Clifford-Lee said. 

Figures from an Oireachtas report on Regional and rural Transport Policy published in July showed a 5.3 per cent increase in all Irish Rail passenger services last year. 

This brings the number of trips on the network to a record high with 47.9 million trips undertaken in 2018.

“With the current growth patterns continuing at the rate they are, there is a risk that overcrowding will get worse before it gets better,” Senator Clifford-Lee added. 

“Irish Rail need to really tackle the issue of capacity before introducing any form of new pre-booking systems.”

Separately, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, provided a boost for commuters last week when he announced that Government approval has been granted for the purchase of 41 additional railcars, at a cost of €150 million.

The carriages will enter service in the Greater Dublin Area by 2021, providing 34 percent increased capacity at peak times.

Chief executive of the National Transport Authority (NTA) Anne Graham said the announcement is to be welcomed. 

“Public transport in Ireland is a success story, with the numbers of Iarnród Éireann passengers increasing every year since 2013,” said Ms Graham. 

“However, this has led to capacity becoming a real issue, particularly on commuter services. While it will take two years before any of these carriages enter service, customers will be reassured by the very fact that they are on the way.”

Meanwhile, Jim Meade said: “At a time when more and more commuters are switching to rail, this order of 41 additional carriages will bring a welcome boost in capacity for some of our busiest commuter routes. 

“We are set to break the 50 million passenger journey barrier for the first time ever in 2019, and I welcome the commitment from Government, Minister Ross and his Department and the National Transport Authority to enable Iarnród Éireann to play the fullest role possible in meeting the transport needs of the communities we serve.”

The project will be delivered by Iarnród Éireann and overseen by the National Transport Authority with funding provided as part of Project Ireland 2040. 

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here