I thank the Deputy for his topical question. As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport. As the Deputy is aware, the operation of Iarnród Éireann services, including the new timetables on the DART, is a matter for the company with oversight by the National Transport Authority, NTA.
One of the features of Dublin's future transport infrastructure that is proposed in the NTA's transport strategy for the greater Dublin area 2016-2035 is implementation of the full DART expansion programme. The DART expansion programme is a series of projects that will create a full metropolitan area DART network for Dublin, with all the lines linked and connected. While interlinked, the projects will also have benefits as stand-alone projects. The National Development Plan, NDP, 2018-2027 includes delivery of the priority elements of the overall DART expansion programme.
Also, by optimising the delivery of both passenger and network benefits through a large NDP capital investment that builds first on optimising the existing rail infrastructure, there should also be better value for money for the taxpayer.
As part of the DART expansion programme and the move to a ten-minute frequency for DART services, Iarnród Éireann introduced a new timetable on Sunday, 9 September to provide for enhanced DART frequency. Iarnród Éireann has stated that the new timetable provides for a 28% increase in overall DART capacity and moves from 156 services per day to 195 services per day. The company also indicated that the more frequent off-peak DART was introduced as a direct response to market research which showed greater demand for off-peak services.
As sometimes occurs when new timetables are introduced, some teething issues arise that need to be reviewed and adjusted in order to ensure that the new arrangements reasonably address customers’ needs. I understand that while the vast majority of this new timetable has provided a much enhanced service to DART commuters now and enables the provision of additional off-peak commuter services from December of this year, some capacity issues have arisen. I am assured that Iarnród Éireann is working with the NTA to iron out those problems.
The main issue that has arisen is around capacity on the northside of Dublin, and Iarnród Éireann has responded swiftly to customer concerns by scheduling additional morning peak services from Portmarnock and Clongriffin.
From Monday, 17 September there has been a 7.29 a.m. service from Portmarnock station to Pearse station and a service from Portmarnock to Bray. Clongriffin has had an additional service provided by Iarnród Éireann at 7.45 a.m. which runs from Clongriffin to Bray.
In summary, with these further services now added by Iarnród Éireann, Portmarnock now has the same number of peak morning services as it had before the timetable change and Clongriffin has one extra.
Iarnród Éireann has stated that it believes that these changes will address the frequency concerns from passengers from Portmarnock and Clongriffin and the capacity issues that have arisen particularly at DART stations such as Harmonstown and Killester.