Submission on railway timetable consultation

I have made the following response to Iarnród Éireann’s public consultation on proposed new timetables.

The increase in service frequency on the Dart and other routes is very welcome. However, I am concerned about some aspects of the timetable changes proposed.

1. The timetable planning process

I asked about the use of the National Transport Authority’s transport model to evaluate this timetable change. Iarnród Éireann’s reply is that the model is used only to evaluate infrastructure changes rather than timetable changes. It is my understanding that the model includes information on interchange and intermodal trips and therefore could be used to evaluate timetable changes including the breaking of existing connections such as are proposed.

2. Interchange between rail and rail and between rail and bus

I am concerned that the timetable is not designed to facilitate interchange between rail lines or between rail and bus. The essential aspect of a quality public transport system is that it operates as a network not simply a collection of non-integrated lines.

At the moment, connections between the Howth line and the Malahide /Drogheda line are irregular, with some connections offering a reasonable interchange time and others offering a time too short or too long. Many Drogheda trains stop at Howth Junction giving access both to the Howth line and to the orbital 17a bus route which travels from Howth Junction Station across the Northside as far as Blanchardstown.

The proposed timetable has a number of negative aspects as regards interchange:

2a No interchange with Drogheda trains at Howth Junction

This proposed timetable no longer has Drogheda trains stopping at Howth Junction, meaning a trip from Donabate to Beaumont (by train and bus) or to Howth (by train) or vice versa would require two changes, not one, a significant drop in service.

2b Long waits for interchange between Howth and Malahide line trains.

The timing of trains through Howth Junction means that passengers between Howth line stations and Malahide line stations will have an interchange of 20 minutes. Such a wait in an unwelcoming station is long enough to deter many passengers. As mentioned above, it is my understanding that the NTA’s model could be used to explore how this timetabling would affect the quality of the trip for passengers and the relative desirability of public transport compared to other modes.

Irish Rail should copy the practice of other railway companies, such as the Swiss Federal Railways, who provide standard interchange times of 6 minutes for non-adjacent platforms.

3. Services to Portmarnock and Clongriffin

It is proposed that Drogheda trains will no longer stop at Portmarnock and Clongriffin. This will particularly affect peak hours with a reduction in the current frequency and the loss of some faster trains from these stations to the city centre. Given the role of Portmarnock in particular as a park and ride, some of these halts should be retained, especially at peak hours.

4. Bus timetables

Please confirm that Dublin Bus will adjust the timetables of connecting services such as the 102 and 17a to provide timely interchange with the new rail timetable.