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Dublin to Wexford rail services: Could ending direct rail services leave commuters better off?

The National Transport Authority is looking at plans to end direct rail services to Rosslare

It emerged this week that the National Transport Authority (NTA) is looking at plans to end direct rail services between Dublin and Rosslare.

Surely they cannot close railways in this day and age? What about all the commuters to Dublin from Wexford?

Ah, here is the rub: nobody said “close”. The NTA actually wants to increase capacity on the route. It is just that it is considering if this can be best achieved by terminating trains from Rosslare at either Wicklow or Greystones and transferring passengers to the Dart service.

Wait. The Dart at Wicklow? The Dart only goes as far as Greystones, and that is only a half service, based on a single line from Bray. Am I missing something about Wicklow?

Yes. Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has said new Dart trains on order from French trainmaker Alstom will have batteries and will be able to reach Wicklow. He has expressed the hope this might happen by 2026.

How likely is that?

It is not likely. There are as yet no facilities to recharge electric trains in Wicklow. The new order of trains is not scheduled to enter service until late 2025. While there are 65 carriages capable of being run on battery alone, these are earmarked for are earmarked for the Drogheda route.

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Is this really about difficulty slotting diesel trains into the Greater Dublin Area electric train network? There is always a big gap in the Dart timetable when a diesel is running through the network.

Well, in a large part, yes. Irish Rail has frequently said delivering additional frequency on the Rosslare to Dublin line was “challenging” in the context of a high-frequency Dart service. This week the company said this challenge “will increase with [planned] improvements in Greystones Dart frequency”.

How is all this playing out in Co Wexford?

Perhaps surprisingly, better than expected. Faced with just three trains to Dublin in the weekday morning, and none between 8.25am and 2pm, passengers we spoke to at Gorey, Co Wexford, this week said any increase at all in the number of trains would be welcome. The main train for Dublin-bound workers leaves Gorey at 6.43am and arrives in Dublin for 8.46am.

It is a diesel commuter train, which actually runs from Rosslare Port to Dundalk, Co Louth. The Dart is seen as the “Holy Grail”. Getting into the Dart network at Wicklow via an increased number of shuttle trains is just the ticket for some.

Oh. So when will this happen then?

Oh, goodness me, there are no dates. These proposals are just considerations. At least until they gain, er, traction. As Irish Rail said this week, ending direct access to Rosslare is just “an option”. Other options exist such as allowing some trains between Rosslare and Dublin travel direct while others transfer passengers to the Dart; or not allowing any trains direct access, or doing nothing at all.

Options may abound but “no decisions have yet been made”, stressed the company.

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