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Unread 27-11-2015, 11:22   #37
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Originally Posted by berneyarms View Post
That's somewhat of a subjective viewpoint as you are clearly looking at it solely from the perspective of an Enterprise user. Most northern line commuter services are taking the same length of time (some off-peak taking longer) as before so I'm struggling to see how view this as "far worse than you expected" in your earlier post?

I'm not sure that the extra time on the Enterprise services is necessarily going to "drive people away", but on the other hand people may leave their cars/buses and revert to DART with the attraction of a 10 minute frequency. This very much turns DART into a "turn up and go" service between Howth Junction and Bray. Unfortunately, it's somewhat of a chicken and egg situation.

I do agree with you on one point - the infrastructure deficit on the Northern line does finally need to be addressed by solid capital investment proposals - four tracking has to become part of the overall strategy.

Unfortunately I have yet to see a single timetable change that has ever pleased everyone. That's kind of inevitable.
While I am an Enterprise user, I also use DART and commuter services, the latter two more frequently than the Enterprise. Indeed a lot of my use of the Enterprise is to avoid the depressingly slow commuter trains which like the Enterprise have been subjected to significant cumulative journey time increases over successive timetable iterations.

At almost any time of the day, I can drive from my house to the city centre in about the same time as the Enterprise would currently take. In the morning I can leave home, by car, 15 to 20 minutes behind a commuter service and arrive in Sydney Parade at least 10 minutes before it shows up. So even point to point journey times are uncompetitive, let alone those that involve a change of train or change of mode. Add to that the significant delays that occur to morning or evening services multiple times a week and you have an offering which is of diminishing appeal especially to longer distance commuters. If you drive up the M1 at almost any time of the day it is buzzing and clearly the railway has lost very significant market share not just to motorists but also to express bus operators.

As for the proposed timetable, it is a credit to the architect in that a considerable effort has been made to produce something that might just be operationally deliverable. The poor signalling and track layout at Malahide, contention at Howth Junction, the lack of an up loop at Clongriffin and even tighter working between Bray and Greystones may well conspire to produce a significantly poorer operating performance than at present. There may well be six DARTs an hour but they will probably turn up in bunches. Alternatively Greystones passengers may find there train held in Bray to take up the path of the following service.

You suggest that this new timetable is effectively an attempt to reverse the long term decline in DART usage. It may do that to some modest degree although I suspect that any gains will be offset by a decline in the usage of other services which, with a few exceptions, have been significantly downgraded.

The issue brought into stark focus by this proposed timetable essentially boils down to whether it makes more sense to impose a journey time penalty of anything up to 20 minutes for passengers travelling to/from stations north of Malahide to facilitate a disproportionate number of comparatively lightly used off peak DARTs. North of Connolly DART accounts for something close to 55% of passengers during the course of a normal working day but already gobbles up 66% of the operating slots. Under this proposal at least 75% of northern line slots will be taken by DART.

The hopelessly uncompetitive journey times to stations south of Greystones means that this line will struggle to maintain even marginal relevance in the medium to long term. The minimal usage figures for stations like Wicklow, Arklow, Gorey and Enniscorthy set out in the 2014 NTA census are stark and depressing . The near empty car parks tell the same story. The same fate would now appear to await the northern line as Irish Rail seeks to implement tram style services on an inflexible and inadequate infrastructure.

And yes there will always be people who don't like a particular change to the timetable, but it is very rare to so significantly degrade one class of user in favour of another unless you are a commercial operator seeking to maximise revenue - this timetable most assuredly won't do that as the higher fare paying passengers are those most likely to walk given that the average DART journey is no more than 9 km !

Last edited by Inniskeen : 27-11-2015 at 11:30.
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