Blog Archive
10th April 2012


By Ronan Kelly, Train Performance Manager

We’ve just recorded our strongest ever quarter for punctuality on the rail network in Ireland.

Now, nothing gets a reaction like statistics like these, so we thought we’d outline for you how they are measured and verified.

Essentially, the posters you see in stations every four weeks, detailing performance across all our routes, are the raw data showing two measures: punctuality and reliability.

Reliability is whether the train runs or not – generally the figure is over 99% as thankfully we have very few cancellations.

Punctuality is the measurement of timekeeping. The criteria for punctuality set out by the National Transport Authority measures punctuality as on time or within 10 minutes of time, except for DART which is measured as on time or within 5 minutes of time.

For the first three months of 2012, the figures show:

- On Intercity, 97.5% punctuality was achieved

- On Commuter services, punctuality was 98.8%

- DART services achieved 91.1%


Compared to Quarter 1 of 2011, this represents a 6.6% increase in Intercity punctuality (from 91.9% in 2011), a 1.8% improvement for Commuter, and a 3.4% improvement for DART.

This very strong performance is the result of the efforts of staff in every function in Iarnród Éireann - from drivers and station staff to those who maintain our fleet and network, to level crossing and signalling staff including those in our Central Traffic Control.  The benefits of investment in fleet, infrastructure and other systems in recent years have also helped to improve performance.

These figures are also the raw figures, which include delays caused by factors outside our control – such as trucks hitting bridges. The NTA performance reports under the Public Service Obligation contract with Iarnród Éireann measures our punctuality excluding such delays. They also independently verify our performance figures.

Internally, we in Train Performance track and monitor our punctuality, collating the data and apportioning of causes, and enabling each department to see how they are performing, and identifying areas where action is needed to improve performance.

In any given year, the fourth quarter is always the most difficult for punctuality – the dreaded wheel-slip caused by wet leaves and other weather factors tend to play a part.  The last two 4th quarters saw 2010's prolonged snowfall, and serious flooding in the Dublin area in 2011.

However, the challenge for us now is to ensure that this strong start to 2012 is continued right through the year – and you can see how we’re doing through those monthly posters, and most importantly in the timekeeping you experience on board.


2012-04-10 at 5:48pm

Matt says:

I'm a daily DART commuter and seem to spend at least 30 mins a week standing on the platform waiting for a late train. From my perspective punctuality is awful, and only managing 91.1% on a 5 minute window seems to confirm this feeling. It's hardly a statistic that I think you should be shouting from the rooftops!

Have you considered sharing the detailed statistics on the causes of delays which hurt punctuality? I'd be much more willing to cut you some slack if the majority if delays were caused by external factors (snow, leaves, stupid truckies, etc) than if the majority of the delays are of your own making.

I'd also be interested in seeing more detailed statistics on the actual delays. E.g. what percentage of trains arrive within 30-60s of the scheduled time? Are the delays concentrated at peak times or evenly spread through the day?

Finally how does your punctuality compare to other suburban commuter rail services (e.g. LUAS, London overground, Zurich train/tram systems?). Are you matching the performance of other operators in similar situations or are there Dublin specific problems making the DART slow and unreliable?

2012-04-10 at 5:48pm

Ronan M says:

I think you will find that intercuty OTP would look somewhat different if you didn't add so much time to Kildare-Heuston section. Take 10 mins off all Waterford, Cok, Galway services and then publsih stats. They will reflect a different stoy. I don't think u should be so pleased about the stats as in the real world they are not as good as you make out.

2012-04-10 at 5:27pm

jdoyle says:

strongest ever quarter for punctuality
you have got to be joking this has been the worst month almost every day the bloody train was late and absolutly no information given
go back and look at your stats again and this time put your glasses on

2012-04-10 at 5:41pm

PJ says:

Also, why oh why is it that (at a conservative estimate) 1 in every 3 darts I'm on stops at the shed just outside Clontarf Road station for anywhere up to 10 minutes - with no announcement as to the reason for the delay? This happens at random times, morning rush hour, evening rush hour, weekday and weekend afternoons. Tell me it's not just the driver stopping to have an oul chat with the lads...

2012-04-10 at 10:06pm

liam says:

Do Irish rail not know the meaning of punctuality, well it means being on time, whether it be for a meeting or date or such like, it does not mean 10 minutes or so late which is advertised on the posters at railway stations. While it is accepted in most western countries that to be a little late is o.k. it does not mean that Irish rail must be the same, while on the whole the service is fairly good, Please don't be making claims that are simply not true.

2012-04-10 at 7:29pm

Annonymous says:

97.5%? What a joke!! I started a job in Feb and to date the longford to dublin train is late 2 days out of 5 each and every week! Most of the time its due to two trains having to share parts one track...why not spend some of that juicy projcet on a second continuous track!!!

2012-04-10 at 9:02pm

Richard says:

The DART punctuality is woeful in my experience. The times published on the website are completely out of sync with the reality.

Trains should be on time. Not within five minutes of being on time. If a train arrives three minutes early at a station it should STAY there until the scheduled departure time, instead of leaving early which causes passengers to miss their train despite being on time and having to wait another 15 minutes in the sweat they built up having run to catch the train.

To hell with the DART

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