Irish rail announced this morning that for the first three months of 2015, there has been an estimated 30,000 increase in rail commuters, the equivalent of 300,000 additional rail journeys, representing a very strong tangible signal of economic recovery.
Economists refer to the “Dart Index” as a measure of economic activity in the Dublin region and at the moment the “Dart Index” is surging upwards, with DART commuter trips up 6.1% when compared to the first three months of 2014.
Iarnrod Eireann, in response to this huge surge in demand is proposing running a DART every 10 minutes instead of the current average of 15 minutes, in addition to increasing the frequency of intercity services. In recognition of this huge surge in demand Irish Rail will also have to review the length of commuter trains, in order to avoid the current phenomena of commuters being squeezed onto smaller trains.
Irish Rail has also announced that in the next few weeks it will be introducing an early morning nonstop service from Cork to Dublin, with a journey time of only 2 hours 15 minutes. In late 2016, Irish Rail hope to have majorly enhanced services on the Kildare commuter line, with a connection utilising the tunnel under the Phoenix Park to link up with Connolly Station.
The area which has experienced the largest surge in demand is in the Dublin region, especially the DART coastline, which has grown by a phenomenal 2.6% in 3 months or 6.1% when compared to the first three months of 2014.
There has also being a huge increase in the use of leap cards, especially the annual TaxSaver, which represents the lowest commuting costs in Western Europe.
The most marked increase in commuter numbers is in the Dublin region, which indicates that Dublin is surging ahead in terms of economic recovery, whilst other regions are increasing in a steady, but slower pace.
Increasing the frequency and length of trains may prove a logistical headache for Irish Rail but it is great news for the Irish economy as it signals the number of people in employment have risen dramatically. When combined with the additional number of cars on Irish roads at peak times the commuting indicators augur well for Ireland in terms of economic recovery.