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COMMENT: Late night train service should be the norm

Monday, 9th December, 2019 7:59am
COMMENT: Late night train service should be the norm

Late night DART services will operate every weekend in the run up to Christmas. FILE PHOTO

COMMENT: Late night train service should be the norm

Late night DART services will operate every weekend in the run up to Christmas. FILE PHOTO

IARNRÓD Éireann gave party-goers an early Christmas present this month when it announced details of late night train services for the festive season.

Commencing last weekend, the services will now run on Friday, December 13, Saturday, December 14, Friday, December 20 and Saturday, December 21. It includes late night DARTs to Greystones and Howth, as well as commuter services on the Dundalk, Maynooth and Kildare lines. In keeping with the Christmas spirit, fares are being charged at normal rates, with Leapcard and all other forms of tickets valid for late night services.

I come from a generation when getting a taxi from the city was something of a lottery, with a long walk home often turning out to be the only option after a night out. If you missed the last bus or train, you were in deep trouble.

The availability of taxis in the city has improved considerably since those dark days but it is still a costly mode of transport, particularly if you live in the outer fringes of Dublin’s ever-expanding commuter belt. The last time I got a taxi home from town (after missing the last train), it cost me over €50 – that’s a fair chunk of change on top of the expense of eating out or socialising in Dublin.

Of course, many of our European neighbours have late night transport services all year round and must be horrified by the limited options when they visit Ireland. In Barcelona, for example, there are metro services every Friday till 2am, with trains running throughout the night on Saturdays. Additional all night services operate during national festivals or major events.

It would be most welcome if Iarnród Éireann extended its current late night services so trains could run every weekend on a year-round basis. Any such decision would ultimately be informed by demand for the Christmas services and the behaviour of passengers.

While late night services will have security personnel on board to ensure customer safety, it would be unfortunate if the behaviour of drunken thugs ruined it for the rest of us.

There are so many benefits for Dublin from a late night train service: it makes the city a more attractive place to socialise in and takes the uncertainty out of getting home. Moreover, it means less people trying to funnel out of town at the same time, reducing overcrowding on buses or trains and minimising the potential for anti-social activity.

With all-night buses now running on both sides of the city, can we dare to hope that we are starting to get our act together when it comes to having a public transport service fit for purpose? There may well be cause for optimism.

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