'Absolutely wedged' - Public transport users react as schools re-open

Irish Rail says it plans to add capacity to certain services from Tuesday, after scenes of full t...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.43 12 Apr 2021

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'Absolutely wedged' - Public t...

'Absolutely wedged' - Public transport users react as schools re-open

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.43 12 Apr 2021

Share this article

Irish Rail says it plans to add capacity to certain services from Tuesday, after scenes of full trains on the first day of schools re-opening.

Newstalk reporter Barry Whyte told The Hard Shoulder that things started to get cramped early on Monday.

"Between the hours of 9am and 3pm, from what I could see, not many people were using the DART today.


"But before 9am - before the kids went back to school for the first day this morning - and at around 4 o'clock - when schools were finishing - it was pretty much mayhem.

"Several people told me they were late for work this morning, because they went to get the train, but they wouldn't get on because it was so busy.

"They then just went back home and ended up driving to work".

Mark Gleeson is a spokesperson for the Rail Users Ireland Forum, who got the DART from Dún Laoghaire to the city centre on Monday.

"On the rare occasions I used the train for essential travel it's been quiet - well under the 25% - this morning it was absolutely wedged.

"It was like the old times, 100+ people in a carriage.

"A lot of people were very uncomfortable, people were taking photographs to document the experience.

"It was not the service we need to provide to essential workers going to work".

Mark said he, like many others, was left with no other choice.

"I looked at it and went 'This might not be a good idea, but then the next train is in 15 minutes - is it going to be any better? Am I going to get to work on time?'

"A lot of people I'd say are of the same opinion, they're on shift work, they have to be in to work on time, they have no choice.

"Irish Rail could have done a lot better this morning - this has been flagged for two to three weeks [that] this was going to happen, but they didn't do anything".

Mr Gleeson said a full service should be provided as things re-open.

"We're now running a Saturday timetable with short trains, so they could double capacity tomorrow morning while not changing the timetable - or we could triple capacity by just running the full timetable.

"It's really a question of why you're not doing that, we need an answer to that.

"The Luas is running a full service and always has".

He said reducing capacity was "artificially suppressing capacity that people need".

One student at Dún Laoghaire DART Station said: "I'd describe it as pretty packed, because there's quite a lot of students that have to travel - not only in my school...quite a lot of children take the DART.

"It's quite hard to find space, you're pretty close together.

"And when you even keep the two metres distance it's really hard to do it - so if there was more carriages, it would be better."

But as Barry Whyte pointed out: "This is an Irish Government decision and not a decision for Irish Rail or the National Transport Authority.

"Under levels four and five, public transport is to remain at 25% capacity, while under levels two and three it's 50% capacity, and at level one it would be a reduced capacity.

"So at the minute Irish Rail services are operating a revised and reduced schedule, reflecting the significant reduction in demand arising from the latest level five restrictions.

"Between 9am and maybe 3pm, there's no demand at the minute - but this morning there was a demand".

Barry Kenny, corporates communications manager with Irish Rail, said they are looking at adding more capacity.

"With the return of all classes to school today we did see some increase in demand on services.

"The majority of services we were able to cater for that demand within the 25% capacity.

"It should be noted on DART and Commuter services, that 25% includes sitting and standing capacity.

"However we have identified a couple of services where we'll be increasing the capacity on those services from tomorrow by adding additional carriages.

"And also we are operating a revised timetable at the moment, so we will also - as demand increases - be in a position to introduce extra services back into the timetable, ultimately building back to a full timetable as the measures are eased".

Main image: A carriage on the Booterstown to Dún Laoghaire DART service just after 4.00pm on Monday April 12th 2021. Picture by: Barry Whyte

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