On the evening of 6 October 2003, the Chairman of CIE and Irish Rail briefed me on arrangements for the welcomed €170 million upgrade of the DART network. This upgrade will be enormously beneficial for commuters, increasing capacity by over 30% as DARTs are lengthened from six to eight carriages. It also has the potential to take thousands more cars off the roads into Dublin.
I was, however, extremely concerned at the level of disruption to services at weekends that the work would cause; the failure to adequately communicate to the public this information and the failure to adequately publicise details of alternative transport services for customers.
I expressed particular concern at the disruption the work would cause on the three weekends before Christmas in December (December 6/7, 13/14 & 20/21). I requested the Chairman to postpone the work on these weekends to ensure a non-interrupted DART service at the busiest time of the year.
This morning the Chairman informed me that he had looked at the arrangements in Irish Rail for the work on the DART upgrade and as a result he was now in a position to assure me that the works will be put on hold over these three weekends in December (December 6/7, 13/14 & 20/21). That work will be picked up at a later stage. I welcome the response from the Chairman and thank him for his intervention.
I have made clear to the Chairman and to Irish Rail that it is imperative, even at this late stage, that all possible measures are immediately taken to comprehensively inform the public of the works schedule and of the alternative transport services that will be available for DART customers, particularly the large fleet of additional buses being provided by Dublin Bus.
8th October 2003
Further information: Tom Rowley (01) 6041089 087 8124723