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Motive Power

Northern Ireland Railways - Translink



connecting europe facility

In November the European Commission issued its second call for proposals under the 2014-20 Connecting Europe Facility, with €1.09 billion available to co-fund projects. Rail-specific focuses in the latest call include funding for projects on the nine designated TEN-T corridors, for interoperability and for ERTMS. Belfast-Dublin-Cork is a designated TEN-T route.



Annual fares determination

In October the NTA published its annual fares determination for IÉ, Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and Luas. This sets the amounts these operators can increase their fares for 2016. The new fares applied from 1 December 2015. In keeping with previous years the NTA is continuing its policy that fares purchased on Leap cards offer significant savings over other types of fares.

Overall there were modest increases and a number of fare categories remained unchanged. Some fares were reduced through Leap Card capping. Changes include: IÉ single Leap fares increased by 1.8% to 2.1%. Single and return cash fares increased by 1.9% to 3.7%. Leap Cards are now cheaper than cash by between 21% and 25% depending on the journey. Short Hop Zone 3-day and 7-day tickets were increased by between 3.4% and 4.0%. Monthly and annual season tickets increased by between 0% and 3%. InterCity Express routes (Dublin-Cork, Dublin-Kerry, Dublin-Limerick-Ennis, Dublin-Dundalk) single fares were not increased. Return fares increased by between 1.6% and 1.9%. There was no increase to any fares on InterCity Economy 1 routes (Dublin-Galway, Dublin-Mayo, Dublin-Sligo, Western Rail Corridor). Single and return fares increased by 0% to 2% on Intercity Economy 2 routes (Dublin-Waterford, Dublin-Rosslare, regional routes).

The NTA did not approve any increase in Luas only monthly and weekly tickets. Adult Leap peak fares were increased by 5%. This is the first increase on most Luas adult Leap fares since January 2013. However to encourage passengers to travel off-peak the NTA did not increase off-peak Leap adult fares. Adult cash fares increased by the minimum 10 cent that the ticket machines can handle for single and return journeys.



In November the Chief Executive of the NTA Ann Graham appeared before the Oireachtas Transport Committee regarding a number of issues including the NTA decision not to recommend progressing with DART Underground. Ms Graham told the Committee that the overall DART Expansion Programme had a positive benefit cost ratio of 1.4:1. The €4 billion DART Expansion Programme comprises the €3 billion DART Underground project, plus:

·  Electrification to Drogheda

·  Electrification of the Cork Line from Heuston to Hazelhatch and completion of 4 tracking from Park West to Inchicore

·  Electrification of the Sligo Line from Connolly to Maynooth, together with removal of level crossings and re-signalling

·  Expansion of fleet and depot facilities.

“Given the very significant cost of the DART Expansion Programme, and recognising that a lower cost alternative for the tunnel element is possible, the Authority recommended the following:

1.    That the compulsory acquisition powers of the approved Railway Order for the DART Underground Project were not activated - i.e. the “notices to treat” were not issued

2.    That the DART Underground Project is redesigned to provide a lower cost technical solution for the project, whilst retaining the required rail connectivity

3.    That a new Railway Order is sought for the revised, lower cost DART Underground Project, together with any remaining elements of the overall DART Expansion Programme which have not already been approved under separate approval processes

4.    That the design and planning work of the revised DART Underground Project is advanced in order to be available for commencement of construction after 2020

5.    That the non-tunnelled elements of the DART Expansion Programme be progressed in line with available funding.”

“Some alternatives that the Authority will explore in relation to a lower cost solution for DART Underground are:

·  Tunnel to Heuston not Inchicore

·  Tunnel only between Heuston and Pearse Station and not Docklands

·  Tunnel between Heuston and Pearse with fewer intermediate stations”.

“The Government’s Capital Investment Plan 2016 – 2021 has made provision for advancing the DART Expansion programme commencing with the extension of the DART line as far as Balbriggan and the design and planning to progress for expansion of DART services to Maynooth in the west and Hazelhatch in the southwest.”


Transport Strategy For Greater Dublin Area 2016 - 2035

The NTA has published its new draft Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016-2035. It offered a public consultation on it from 15 October to 13 November. Many items in the strategy have already been covered by this Journal and are not repeated here.

Light Rail

·  Metro South – from St. Stephen’s Green to Bride’s Glen, completing a full north-south high-capacity high-frequency cross-city rail corridor running from Swords to Bride’s Glen

·  Extension of Luas Green Line to Bray, providing a second rail alternative to this large town, connecting to the city centre and major destinations along the corridor at Cherrywood, Sandyford and Dundrum

·  Extension of Luas Cross City to Finglas, utilising the new Luas Cross City line to provide a light rail link to the Finglas area

·  Luas to Lucan, providing a high capacity link into the centre of Lucan’s large residential areas to the south of the N4 national road, and connecting to the city centre

·  Luas Red Line extension to Poolbeg, linking the north Docklands to this new development area south of the Liffey.

Heavy Rail:

·  Implement the DART Expansion Programme

·  Develop a new train control centre to manage the operation of the rail network

·  Construct additional train stations in developing areas with sufficient demand

·  Implement a programme of station upgrades and enhancement

·  Ensure an appropriate level of train fleet, of an appropriate standard, to operate on the rail network.



In October the NTA published the results of the Heavy Rail Census for 2014. The overall results were similar to the previous year and are not noted in detail here (See Journal 186). As the survey is conducted in November every year InterCity and regional traffic is at its lowest for the year but commuter traffic is at its highest. Therefore statements made such as “44% of all journeys were made on DART” and “As in 2013, some 83% of all journeys were taken in the Greater Dublin Area” have to be taken in that light and are not representative of the whole year despite the NTA claiming “13 November, 2014 – a snapshot of rail usage on a ‘representative’ day unaffected by traditional holiday periods, and when all places of work and education are in full session”.

Extracts from the summary report:

·  Just over 124,000 journeys were taken on the day of the census – a slight increase on 2013

·  677 individual rail services operated on census day 2014. This was a 2% increase over 2013

·  Just over 55,000 journeys were made on the DART, around 900 fewer than in 2013

·  The numbers of rail journeys taken outside of the GDA on census day decreased by almost 2% relative to 2013.


2015 Passenger numbers

In January the NTA released preliminary public transport passenger number figures for 2015. Overall numbers rose by 3.6% over 2014. Luas had the largest growth, up 6.1% to 34.6m passengers, followed by IÉ up 5.3% to 39.8m.



Total incl. buses


























Increase 2015 over 2014




% increase






2014 Report

EU legislation requires the RSC to publish an annual report each year concerning its activities in the preceding year and to send it to the European Railway Agency. Many of the items noted in this report have already been reported on in this Journal and are not repeated here.

The RSC notes that the Irish network is small, carrying less than one percent of total EU railway traffic, and it continues to have relatively low accident rates per million train-km. It is difficult to pick up any trend in the Common Safety Indicator (CSI) accidents as the dataset is too small. In 2014, there were four significant accidents:

·  One fatality to a trespasser on the railway, who was struck and killed by a moving train following their attempt to retrieve an item from the track in a station

·  One fatality to an intending passenger on a platform, who fell onto the track and was struck and fatally injured by a train

·  One collision with a road vehicle at a level crossing, where a passenger train struck a van, seriously injuring the occupant

·  One collision of a passenger train with an obstacle, leading to a derailment (without casualties) and resulting in line closure for approximately 12 hours.

A car also collided with the side of a passenger train at an unattended level crossing on a public road, without significant injury to the occupant or significant delay to trains.

The number of wrong-side signalling failures in 2014 was 21 (14 in 2013). The number of SPAD incidents reduced in 2014 to 10 (18 in 2013). “In regard to wrong-side failures, there was again a large increase in reported incidents. These mainly related to loss of detection at track circuits due to rail-head contamination between October and December but also due to a number of power failures as a result of lightning strikes.”

“Similar to other years, injuries to customers or visitors to stations remain at a high level with slips, trips and falls being the dominant cause of these injuries. These incidents tend to be of a minor nature and resulting injuries are usually treated by first aid at the station.”

The number of bridge strikes was 87 (94 in 2013). “While only a small annual reduction, it is significantly less than the 2005 high of 215.”

There were 4 broken rails (1 in 2013) and zero track buckles (3 in 2013).

The number of level crossings in early 2015 was 978, down from 1,011 at the end of 2013.

The remainder of this article appears in IRRS Journal number 189, published February 2016

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Revised: January 17, 2017 .