Blog Archive

By Jim Walsh,

Operations Planning Manager

 

We introduced our new timetable just over six weeks ago, and we’ve had a lot of feedback both positive and negative on some of the changes introduced. We thought it worthwhile to review the process of introducing the timetable, and how we’ve responded to feedback received.

At the outset, we had three key factors to consider in planning the new timetable:

- Current and potential demand levels, which have changed considerably in recent years

- Cost considerations: the need to ensure that the services are delivered as cost effectively as possible, which is linked to demand

- Journey time improvements: the need to deliver faster journey times on key routes, particularly to and from Heuston Station

With that in mind, draft schedules were produced. These were put online in two phases, in September for Connolly routes, and in late November for Heuston and regional routes.

This gave the opportunity for customers across the network to examine the proposed changes, and to give feedback on what was planned. While constraints in finances in particular meant not everything requested in feedback could be delivered, we were able to implement some changes to the draft timetable arising from the feedback.

Changes through feedback to the proposed schedule included:

- Departure time alterations to some Carlow, Galway, Mayo and Kerry services

- Changes in stopping patterns on a number of services, including restoring some stops for Kildare and Newbridge

The schedule is also subject to the approval of the National Transport Authority. When this approval was granted, it was uploaded to our website in early January, to be introduced from 20th January 2013, as we were anxious to achieve the cost savings and journey time improvements as soon as possible.

The introduction of the new times coincided with a prolonged period of disruptive weather, which meant that the early days of the schedule saw many delays. However, with some exceptions, the overall schedule has now been performing well, outside of individual faults (such as a major delay at Sallins on 13th February last).

The improved journey times are being delivered, and where we have specific issues – such as the impact of an extra train on the Galway service (it’s a single track, so crossings with other trains can get complex), we are examining these issues to see if we can tweak the schedule and improve punctuality.

Another issue which arose was capacity on a number of services, particularly the 18.10 from Heuston to Portlaoise and the 18.35 Heuston to Waterford. While we are trying to save costs through matching supply with demand, and while standing is to be expected for short commuter journeys, it became apparent very quickly that these trains did not have sufficient capacity.

The 18.10 was increased in size after a number of days, and after examining our fleet allocations across the revised timetable, and changes in demand, we were able to increase the size of the 18.35 train from 19th February. We’ll continue to monitor demand and train size throughout this timetable, and make changes where we see shifts in demand.

In this way, the timetable review process is an ongoing one. While we generally will implement no more than one major change per annum, the actual formal process begins this month again. Demand, customer feedback, our own resources, commercial opportunities, liaison with the NTA, infrastructure considerations and more are all examined as we plan ahead.

So, while we will again nearer the time issue a draft for your feedback, all customer feedback on timetables throughout the year does feed in to what we do.  While every timetable change prompts a range of views, we do our best to ensure that we deliver a schedule that is convenient for as many people as possible, and meets the demand for our services.

 

 

11 Comments

2013-03-04 at 3:45pm

Patrick Brophy says:

The new DART timetable has been in affect for nearly two months at this stage. It appears to be the same one as last year's timetable and the year before that i.e. no changes locally (Dalkey, Glenageary or Killiney). However, I frequently notice a lot of "Commuter" branded services from Bray to Maynooth/Drogheda and vice versa cruising along between Blackrock and Dun Laoghaire. Some of these services have excessive padding because they are sandwiched tightly between two DART's.

As such, would it not make sense to have stations such as Glenageary, Dalkey and Killiney added to the list of stops where excessive timetable padding could be consolidated for these extra stops. This would remove the need for extra DART's and make better use of the current services. It would also create breathing space for the Bray to Maynooth/Drogheda Commuter services by allowing the DART in front of them to gain more progress. In any case, it would plug in gaps at peak times to relieve overcrowding on the DART's.

It should be noted that the morning "Balbriggan" service departing Bray at roughly 08:55 made an additional stop at stations such as Dalkey and Glenageary up to two years ago. I would like to highlight that I frequently boarded the service in question at both stations interchangeably and without fail, it often took in decent loadings in the region of 20 or more passengers. Moreover, the distance of the "Bray to Maynooth/Drogheda" and "Maynooth/Drogheda to Bray" journeys in their entirety, are quite DART like, particularly for journeys to and from "Maynooth" which is well within the PALE Area.

The bottom line is that the peak hour "Commuter" trains are carrying mostly air between Dun Laoghaire and Bray which in my opinion is anything but an efficient use of such services. At the same time, it would be madness to serve every station between those mentioned. Nevertheless, stations such as Glenageary, Dalkey and Killiney could be re-added to the list of stopping stations for some of the peak hour "Commuter" trains. Realistically, I do acknowledge that there aren't that many passengers waiting at the southbound platform in Glenageary Station in the morning. So, I amn't suggesting a stop for southbound "Commuter" branded trains at Glenageary during this time.

2013-03-04 at 4:24pm

Ronan says:

Glad the 18.35 has being restored but for you to save costs. The 07.10 the following morning does not need to be a 6 carrage train and what needs to be done the 17.35 to Waterford can be split and it should be split in Waterford and operate the 7.10 with 3 carrages. The other 3 carrages should be used for the 11.00 to Heuston. This would mean there would be no need to send a 6 carrage train on the 7/25 down service in the morning and it savings a lot.

2013-03-04 at 4:27pm

Ronan says:

One other thing are ye happy with the problems on Waterford line in the evenings. THe 16.40 is scheduled to stop in Ballyhale loop but as the timetable is wrong its arriving at the loop 6-8 minutes late which then delays the 18.25 up services by up to 10 minutes. THis then causes delays to the 17.35 and 18.25 arriving into Kilkenny everyday. Very few days go by when things run on time.

IMO there needs to be some little changes.

2013-03-04 at 2:00pm

Grainne Whale says:

The 8.06am form Hazelhatch to Heuston has NEVER run on time since the advent of the new timetable. On several occasions it is up to 20mins late. We have lost 3 trains in the mornings between 8am - 9.10am, why spend millions on a station and then downgrade it.

2013-03-04 at 1:23pm

Finbarr O'Neill says:

This post is regarding the East Cork lines to Cobh and Midleton, on which I am a commuter to Cork.

The introduction of the extra service in the morning, 0615 Midleton - Cork is definitely a welcome addition to an already excellent timetable. There is a 0545 Cork to Midleton service, however it is not in the timetable, but does serve every station.

Janaury 20th (?) was the date the new timetable was introduced, however, most stations on the East Cork lines do not have any timetable displayed. As of Tuesday, 12 March 2013, the following stations do not have timetables displayed:
- Little Island
- Glounthaune
- Fota
- Carrigaloe
- Rushbrooke

Midleton: has two timetables displayed. One within the protection of the notices cabinet and the other exposed to the elements, which will last only another 2-3 days before it is blown away. The timetable within the cabinet has another noticed displayed over the Sunday portion of the timetable. Of all the days to be displayed, Sunday is almost the most important due to the P.I.S. displays only showing departures an hour before departure - on Sundays, there are 2 hourly gaps on the Midleton line.

Carrigtwohill: has two timetables displays as well, however one of them is the previous timetable which is displayed within the protection of the notices cabinet, and the new one exposed to the elements. This, like Midleton, has about 1 week left before it is blown away.

Iarnród Éireann / Irish Rail run a fantastic service on both East Cork lines, and should be highly commended for their efforts. The lack of basic information at the stations, i.e. timetables, is the only thing that is letting the service down.

Is there any chance of getting this rectified?

Finbarr.

2013-03-04 at 2:20pm

James Barber says:

Idea for improved efficiency of 0645 from Newry,

Jim,

I have a proposal to improve efficiency of the 0645 from Newry, that should increase numbers on the service as well.
Currently the 0645 from Newry arrives in to Connolly at 0837, it rarely does and becomes a 2 Hr train journey, this is frustrating and is compounded by the 0745 Enterprise from Newry arriving into Connolly at 0905, why would you get the 0645 when when a train that leaves an hour later gets in to Connolly 25 - 30 mins. The reason is that if you have to be in Dublin before 9 this is the only train you can get.

A great Service ( DMU Class 22000) runs from Dundalk at 0700, the 0645 Service (29000 Class) from Newry arrives into Dundalk between 0702 and 0705, if these trains could be scheduled to meet at Dundalk to facilitate a change over of passengers that wish to it would be brilliant. I believe the 29000 Class is restricted in speed while north of the border and this is the problem in stopping the two trains being at the station at the same time. According to the irishrail users forum the DMU Class 22000 has been tested on the north of the boarder.
The 0700 is a popular train and I am aware of many passengers from north of the boarder drive to Dundalk to get this rather than get the inefficient 0645 from Newry.

I live in hope that this can happen.

2013-03-04 at 6:34pm

Brendan Delaney says:

Iarnrod Eireann raise fares; then reduce number of trains; then reduce number of carriages per train; then close many station houses including waiting rooms, leaving passengers open to the elements often with no shelter whatsoever. I boarded a commuter train at its terminus, Pearse Station, recently about 3.00 p.m. - not exactly peak hour. There were people standing before its departure. At Tara Street it was virtually full and at Connolly it resembled a New Delhi local train with people just hanging on.

It reminded me of correspondence in the New York Times many years ago. A letter from a commuter on the Long Island Rail Road complained about not being able to get a seat on the train and stated that one had to go back to pre-Biblical times to get a worse service. The Rail Road wrote back acknowledging somewhat the problem, however, drew the line at the Biblical era comment, stating that this was way over the top. No so, wrote back the long suffering commuter. He stated that "in Biblical times, on Palm Sunday, Jesus rode into town on his ass and that's something I haven't been able to do for 15 years"

How much would it affect costs to add on another carriage or two? Present situation does not encourage train commuting.

Brendan

2013-03-04 at 10:15am

Mary says:

Intetresting post and I am sure the changes were well considered. It was just a shame when the new timetable issued that no individual took ownership of proof reading the printed timetables correctly and signing off accordingly... so that they were available at the changeover. It just made the changeover look like "amateur hour" which was a shame as the new timetable has delivered significant improvements for me.

2013-03-04 at 12:27am

David says:

Can you stop more intercity trains (prefererabilly Dublin-Galway/Galway-Dublin) in stations in Co. Kildare (Sallins, Newbridge and Kildare)? the majority of trains from Heuston-Galway don't stop until Portarlington. Please could you, the next time you are changing the timetables, stop more trains in Sallins, Newbridge, Kildare etc.

2013-03-04 at 2:50pm

Railway Lines blog says:

Thanks for your feedback, which will be forwarded to our timetable planning department. However, as a general principle, we do not plan to increase the number of stops on Intercity services, to ensure we offer competitive journey times on Intercity which our customers request.

2013-03-04 at 5:09pm

Kilmolin says:

The policy of reducing the number of carriages per train, on both peak-time services and off-peak, is very short-sighted and unfair to passengers. Of course it is to save money, but there are several reasons why this is a mis-guided policy:

1. Revenue will actually be lost as pasengers change to other transport services because of over-crowding on rail

2. Government subventions may also be reduced as passenger numbers fall

3. It makes the weekend closure of stations to lengthen platforms and accommodate longer trains over 3 summers look like a waste of money

4. Health and safety problems may arise because of overcrowding

5. It is grossly uncomfortable and unfair to passengers to have to travel on overcrowded trains

6. Rail as a transport option had recovered its status and reputation following long-delayed investment over the past two decades. Reverting to third world standards of travel will undo this.

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