Thursday, 28 September 2006
There has been significant investment in infrastructure and services on the DART network and on the Dublin to Rosslare inter-city railway route serving Greystones in recent years. Notably, Greystones has benefited from expansion in the DART fleet, with the number of carriages almost doubling from 80 to 154 since the year 2000. In conjunction with the €176 million DART upgrade project, which delivered longer platforms and station improvements to cater for eight-carriage trains, major peak time capacity benefits have resulted.
Improvements have also been delivered on the Arklow commuter service serving Greystones and now extended to Gorey. The Dublin to Rosslare line track renewal was completed in 2004, with almost 80 miles of track upgraded from old jointed track on timber sleepers to modern continuous welded rail on concrete sleepers, yielding safety and journey time benefits. Combined with the introduction of new commuter railcars in 2003, these investments have resulted in higher capacity and reliability improvements on the route.
I understand from Iarnród Éireann that since December 2005 the number of daily services to and from Greystones has increased from 55 to 58 services. As part of the planning process for next December's timetable, Iarnród Éireann is considering improvements to the morning peak service from Greystones and also providing some additional off-peak services.
Further safety and efficiency benefits to inter-city services serving Greystones will be delivered through a €15.8 million resignalling project which is under way. However, the benefits of all investments to date will culminate and be apparent to passengers with the deployment of some of the 150 inter-city railcars on the route during 2007 and 2008. These will deliver the highest standards of quality, comfort and reliability and will also allow Iarnród Éireann to make further frequency increases on the route.
I thank the Minister for his detailed reply. I tabled this question for two reasons. The evening peak time service from Dublin to Gorey was reduced from six carriages to four. However, I have had correspondence from Iarnród Éireann since I tabled the question that this has been restored to six.
Also, Councillor Mitchell, the local mayor, had written to the new chief executive of Iarnród Éireann, Mr. Fearn, who I wish well in his new appointment, seeking to organise a meeting that would also be attended by Councillors Jones and Killilea and a Mr. Dwyer of a local action group. He sought an enhanced rail service to be provided during December. The Minister mentioned in his reply that this is under consideration and I hope it proceeds.
The population of Greystones is 16,000 and has increased by 33% since 2002. The Minister stated that the frequency of the rail service has increased, which it has, but it has not kept pace with the growth in population. The station in Greystones is also used by people further south in Wicklow, Arklow and down the Wexford coast. I understand that the DART track between Malahide, Howth and Bray uses double track and that south of Bray this is not the case due to technical difficulties involving Bray Head. However, a report, the name of which I cannot recall, recommended double track be laid down south of the tunnel in Bray. This could be done, allowing trains to meet on a small section with an area for one train to pull in, and would greatly enhance the service to Greystones. The costs would be in the region of €1 million. I ask the Minister to consider raising this issue with Iarnród Éireann, because a small amount of money could facilitate the improvement of this service. It is reasonably good and has served the people well, but there will be increased demand for it.
I thank the Deputy for his acknowledgement of the investments made and the increases in services in the area in recent years. However, Iarnród Éireann faces capacity problems in trying to enter Dublin from commuter routes, DART routes and inter-city routes. We are bursting at the seams. The planning involved in the new docklands station in Dublin is an example of how this is being approached. We are trying to create more options for traffic in Dublin so we can further increase capacity. I believe Iarnród Éireann is considering increased peak and off-peak traffic for the Deputy's area during December and I hope it can deliver. I am not familiar with the last point raised by the Deputy but I will raise it with Iarnród Éireann on his behalf.