My Department is funding an on-going programme of accessibility improvement grants to upgrade existing public transport infrastructure and facilities. This includes funding for the upgrading of Iarnród Éireann stations to ensure they are accessible to people with mobility, sensory and cognitive impairments. Funding in the region of €48 million has been provided to the company for this purpose since 2006. This programme is being administered on behalf of my Department by the National Transport Authority (NTA).
I understand that Iarnród Éireann’s current policy is to have a portable wheelchair ramp at all stations and they are also located on board Inter City trains. A member of staff must be available to safely deploy the ramp for use. In relation to electric ramps the company advise that due to the variability of the interfaces between trains and platforms (including curved platforms, platforms of different heights) the only possible option for electric ramps is for them to be permanently fitted on board trains. In effect due to their complexity this would require that they are built into the train when it is first constructed. The company is committed to such a requirement when ordering new rolling stock in the future.
I am also informed by Irish Rail that they are in discussions with the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) regarding the use of Killester Station by wheelchair users. It was agreed that Iarnród Éireann would put in place an agreed protocol to assist wheelchair users when travelling on DART services. If the CRC are agreeable to this protocol it will be implemented throughout the DART network.