by James Scannell

August to October 2019


Lines from Ireland – November 2019 to January 2020

An announcement towards the end of October 2019 of a proposal by Irish Rail to introduce ‘pre-book only’ services during peak times on outer commuter services was criticized as ‘absolutely unacceptable’ by the chairman of the Irish parliament’s transport committee. This led to the rail company issuing a statement at the start of November denying that this was the case: ‘pre-booking’ would not apply to outer commuter services but only long-distance trains on special travel occasions for major events such as open air concerts and sporting events, as is the practice at the present time.


In early November Shane Ross, Minister for Transport, Sport and Tourism, confirmed Government approval for the company to purchase 41 carriages at a cost of US $170M to cope with growing passenger numbers. These will enter service from late 2021 onwards providing 34% increased Dublin Commuter capacity in the morning peak time on the Kildare, Maynooth and Northern Lines. The new carriages will be used with the existing InterCity Railcar fleet, resulting in longer train sets being used all over the Greater Dublin Area commuter network. Last year Irish Rail, with the National Transport Authority, commenced the tender process to order the largest and greenest fleet in Irish public transport history: up to 600 electric/battery-electric powered carriages to be delivered over a ten-year time scale. The contract is expected to awarded later in 2020 with the first carriages entering service in 2024, and is part of the US$2.2B  DART Expansion program which will double capacity in the Greater Dublin Area and release InterCity carriages currently in use on Commuter routes for InterCity travel.


With record numbers travelling by rail, major plans are under way to expand the capacity of the Irish railroad network at the heart of which is DART Expansion. This transformative railway package aims to modernize and improve the existing railroad network and provide a sustainable, electrified, faster system that is more reliable and user-friendly. Irish Rail’s ambition is to increase train frequency from the current 10-minute frequency to a 5-minuate all day frequency, and to lengthen all trains to 8 carriages. The cumulative network effect of DART Expansion, subject to Government authorization and funding, will double customer capacity from the current 26,000 passengers per hour per direction to around 52,000 passengers per hour per direction by 2027. DART Expansion is a key element of the National Transport Authority’s Transport Strategy for the Great Dublin Area 2016-2035 and a corner stone of Project Ireland 2040. As part of an integrated transport system DART Expansion will provide options to citizens and encourage a move away from private automobiles to public transport.


Dublin’s Lansdowne Road station is directly beside the Aviva stadium which throughout the year hosts domestic and international soccer and rugby matches plus open air concerts. In June 2020 the stadium will host 4 UEFA 2020 international soccer matches. As a trial exercise to test and examine logistics, mobility, safety, security and safety access to the stadium for these marches, on November 18th the station was closed for an international soccer match between the Republic of Ireland and Denmark with those attending having to alight at either Grand Canal Dock Station, one stop north of Lansdowne Road station, or Sandymount Station, one station south of Lansdowne Road. Supporters had to walk to the stadium for the match and back to catch trains home. Additional stewards were located along the routes to the stadium to guide supporters to it. Regular users of the Lansdowne Road station also had to use the other stops during the hours of closure. Lessons learned from that closure exercise will be incorporated in the final plans which will be implemented in June 2020 when the 4 matches take place.


In November the Irish Railway Record Society, Ireland’s leading railway history organization, published the 200th issue of its journal. Published three times each year without interruption since 1947, many of its articles are reference works without equal. This landmark was noted with a number of specific items incorporating a ‘200’ theme. These included a special 200th issue rosette on the front cover. The Irish Railway Record Society holds two lectures each month from January to April and from September to December. Its premises are located in Dublin’s Hueston Station with an extensive archive of Irish railroad company records, books, and photographs which can be accessed by researchers. Uniquely, the Society also has another Republic of Ireland branch in Cork City, and a London Branch in the United Kingdom. In February 2020 it hopes to establish a second UK branch in Manchester. Information about the Irish Railway Record Society can be found at




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Revised: Feb 2020