Proposed 10-minute DART service derailed

by Emma Nolan

FIANNA Fail TD for Dublin Fingal, Darragh O’Brien has expressed his frustration and “disappointment” at the announcement by Irish Rail that plans to increase DART frequency from every 15 minutes to 10 minutes have been postponed.
Deputy O’Brien is concerned for his constituents in areas such as Malahide who rely heavily on the DART service.
Iarnrod Eireann has advised customers that the proposed 10-minute frequency for DART services, which had been planned to commence on April 10, is being postponed due to “trade union intransigence on behalf of SIPTU and NBRU who represent DART drivers”.
A spokesperson from Iarnrod Eireann said that “the trade unions have used the requirements of our customers as a bargaining chip in pursuit of completely separate issues, citing productivity despite the company training additional drivers to deliver the service; and seeking pay increases of up to 25%”.
The spokesperson added: “The trade unions have also damaged the interests of drivers, as the extra drivers who had been trained to allow the service to expand will reduce the need for additional hours from drivers within the existing schedule.”
SIPTU has said that the “assertion is without any basis in fact”. SIPTU organiser Paul Cullen said: “In reality, the introduction of a 10-minute DART service is an integral part of discussions between the company and trade unions concerning productivity.
“To run such a service requires at least an additional 20 drivers, and these workers will not be in place until June.
“There are also currently not enough train units to operate a 10-minute DART service in a manner which will actually increase operational capacity.
“What management had proposed was a more frequent service, but with less capacity per train.”
He added: “In talks at the Workplace Rights Commission, the company has not made any positive response in relation to the measures necessary to implement an increased DART service.
“It has also been made clear by our members that no extra duties will be taken on until progress has been made in relation to productivity issues and an outstanding pay claim.”
Deputy O’Brien said this decision will affect Fingal commuters who rely on DART services, particularly in Malahide, and said that they were frustrated by an “overcrowded, stagnant service”.
He said: “Proposals from Irish Rail to expand the frequency of the DART services would have alleviated overcrowding and improved the quality and regularity of service for passengers who rely on the DART.
“It is unfortunate that a dispute developed surrounding this proposal. We have seen over the last few months the negative impact Luas strikes can have on the city.
“It is imperative that we do not allow a similar situation to develop on the DART.”

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