DART Accessibility Pilot Review - April 2018

23 April 2018

Following the introduction of the Accessibility Pilot for DART stations on the 29th January, Iarnród Éireann Irish Rail have reviewed the performance of the scheme


Following an Accessibility Users group meeting in 2017, Iarnród Éireann’s Head of Customer Experience was approached after the meeting by representatives from The Irish Wheelchair Association to set up a meeting to look at the notice period on the DART specifically.

This was followed up with a meeting which took place with representatives from the Irish Wheelchair Association(IWA), Passenger Services Manager for the DART and Head of Customer Experience. It was agreed that Iarnrod Éireann would undertake a full review of accessibility on the DART specifically looking at the 24 hour notice period which IWA had advised that their members felt wasn’t workable.

Behaviour and Attitudes undertook research with the major stakeholders

  • Irish Wheelchair Association
  • National Council for the Blind
  • Irish Guide dogs for the Blind
  • National Transport Authority
  • Independent People with Disabilities.
  • Two accessibility users, one visually impaired and one mobility impaired.

Research Results: Key Observations / Frustrations

  • The requirement of 24 hour advanced notice is viewed as being outdated, impractical and an obvious sign of inequality.
  • Less frequent and older passengers of the DART service are most likely to contact the call centre to arrange assistance.
  • More frequent and younger passengers have developed tactics which have become habitualised, one example is personal staff mobile numbers have been attained with strong relationships between Disability user and staff member.
  • Stick to travelling via Dart during the times when they know someone will be at the station to help.
  • Communication is one of the main factors impacting upon the efficiency of the assistance programme.
  • When all parties; control, station operatives (at boarding and departing stations) and drivers, are fully aware of a passenger boarding and departing stations the service works well.
  • Any breakdown in this communication can have a detrimental effect on the passenger and their travel plans

Two Dominant Themes

1. Iarnród Éireann had a duty to improve.

  • Policy review was required.
  • Incremental changes had to take place.
  • Learn from experiences in any pilot.

2. Poor communication of key information causes anxiety.

  • Lifts out of order confusion.
  • Unclear on what stations are manned or unmanned.
  • Confirmation that assistance would be at station.

The following changes were implemented on the 29th January

  1. 24 hours’ notice reduced to 4 hours.
  2. Hub stations set up with direct contact with station and mobile phone as back up.
  3. Disability users can now register details and needs to get all the information required.
  4. Improving station signage program commenced.
  5. Advertisement campaign for both general public and users.
  6. Accessibility Users group briefed throughout process.

Next Phase

Lifts out of Order

Lifts out of order notice on Passenger Information System at station will be reinstated this spring. This will give Customers requiring accessibility assistance advance notice of any issues with lifts so they can make a decision to go to an alternative station.

Accessibility App

Innovative Pilot Project to enable new process and address most key issues.  Like a taxi hailing app for DART users with Disabilities.  This would be a game changer and would address some of the key communication breakdowns that occur currently with staff often caught assisting the general public within their general duties and genuinely forgetting that there is a Customer waiting for assistance. 

Vision impaired and mobility impaired users experience high levels of anxiety when planning on taking a rail journey.  Some users who have experienced issues in the past, do not have confidence in the system and know that human error can impact the current process.  This anxiety can be partially mitigated through the use of technology that will allow them prebook a journey that confirms there will be station staff assistance at their departure and arrival station and provides support in the event of an emergency.

The funding source has to be agreed with the National Transport Authority.

DATA (29th January 25th February)


Hub Stations in Bold

 Number of assists within hub stations

Fall down in Service

Fall Down %  User didn't arrive 

Bray (Greystones, Shankill)



Dalkey (Killiney, Glenageary)



Dun Laoghaire (Sandycove, Salthill)



Blackrock  (Seapoint, Booterstown, Sydney Parade)



Sandymount  (Lansdowne Road)


Pearse   182      
Tara Street  68      
Connolly  554  3  0.54%  9

Killester (Clontarf Road)


Raheny (Harmonstown, Kilbarrack)


Howth Junction (Bayside)


Howth (Sutton)


Malahide (Portmarnock, Clongriffin)

Totals  2148  3  0.13%  13


There were 2,148 Accessibility users assisted between 29th January and 25th February.  The District Manager for the DART undertook a number of meetings with Station Managers and staff on the new process.  These meetings take place on a weekly basis.  The staff at stations have become familiar with the new process and recording data is now part of their day to day duties.

Unfortunately, there were three assists that didn’t go through successfully at Connolly station.  This was down to phone calls not being received from the origin station who were caught dealing with other Customer issues and never made the phone call to Connolly.

There were also 13 calls received from Accessibility users that requested assistance but didn’t turn up at the station.

The process has worked well in the vast majority of cases but the couple of fall downs that did occur are down to human error which could be partially addressed by the implementation of the App solution which would give the staff member a reminder of assistance request on their phone.