Commuter (Iarnród Éireann)
|Type||Commuter rail, Suburban rail|
|Locale||Greater Dublin Area
|Rolling stock||2600 Class
|No. of tracks||2-4|
|Track gauge||1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)|
|Operating speed||120 km/h (75 mph) maximum|
Commuter is the brand name given to the suburban rail services operated by Iarnród Éireann in Ireland. These operate in and around the suburban rail networks of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway, in contrast to the majority of services which are classed as InterCity. In recent years, Iarnród Éireann has put a significant amount of effort into upgrading its network, with new tracks, signalling, station upgrades and trains. The majority of Commuter services are operated by diesel multiple unit train sets. An exception to this is the DART service - this shares the line with several other services. It is the only electrified heavy rail service in Ireland.
The brand was introduced in 1994 as 'Arrow', the first specific branding for diesel suburban services, with the launch of the Arrow brand on the newly opened Kildare line. This brand was applied to stations on the line, as well as the 2600 Class railcars. It was also applied to the 2700 Class and 2800 Class railcars upon their introduction (however in the case of the latter, it was removed shortly after their introduction into service and replaced with the National Development Plan logo). Thus the Arrow brand became the first major branding for suburban railway services in Dublin (officially, its use remained limited to the Kildare line, but Arrow branded or liveried trains were used on most suburban services).
In 2003, the Arrow brand was renamed 'Commuter', upon the introduction of the 29000 Class railcars and has since been extended to the entire suburban railcar fleet. It is also used in some signage and advertising, giving the diesel commuter networks a consistent look for the first time. The Dublin railway system is now called "DART/Commuter" in line with the new brand, with the former Arrow brand having been completely phased out by 2007.
In 2010 the 2600 Class and 2700 and 2750 Classes began to be re-liveried from Commuter to a grey and green colour scheme with no reference to the Commuter brand. Instead an irishrail.ie logo referencing the then booking website was displayed on the side of the trains. In 2012 the 2800 Class was re-branded leaving the only the 29000 Class in the Commuter livery. From the start of 2013 the new bilingual logo is being introduced across the company's rolling stock, including the Commuter service. This is designed to eliminate customer confusion between the two names Iarnród Éireann and Irish Rail and create a more unified image.
There are four commuter lines serving Dublin along with DART.
- Northern - this route operates from Dublin to Dundalk, with its central terminus at Dublin Pearse. The route is shared as far as Malahide with the DART service. The route lies on the Dublin-Belfast railway line.
- South Eastern - this route operates from Dublin to Arklow, with its terminus at Dublin Connolly, and is shared with the DART as far as Greystones. This route is shared with trains to Rosslare.
- Western - this route has two branches in the city centre; one starts at Docklands railway station, while the other starts from Dublin Pearse. The two converge at Broombridge, with the line going as far as Longford. In September 2010, services from Docklands to M3 Parkway were introduced on this line.
- South Western - this route operates from Dublin to Kildare, with its central terminus at Dublin Heuston.
Other services operate between Mallow and Tralee, and Manulla Junction and Ballina. In addition, some InterCity services operate using Commuter branded DMUs - these include the Dublin-Sligo, Dublin-Rosslare Europort and Limerick-Rosslare Europort services.
- Cork Kent - Mallow line. New stations at Kilbarry, Monard and Blarney are planned for future.
- Cork Kent - Cobh line calling at Little Island, Glounthaune, Fota Island, Carrigaloe and Rushbroke. stations at Dunkettle and Ballynoe are planned for future.
- Cork Kent - Midelton line calling at Carrigtwohill. It is hoped the line will eventually extend to Youghal with intermediate stops at Mogeely and Killeagh.
Main article Limerick Suburban Rail
The Limerick commuter rail network consists of three suburban rail lines which comprise the Limerick suburban network.
- Limerick Colbert - Ennis line calling at Sixmilebridge
- Limerick Colbert - Nenagh line calling at Castleconnell and Birdhill. (This is a skelelton service)
- Limerick Colbert - Limerick Junction (for Tipperary town)
The Galway commuter rail network consists of one suburban rail line which comprises the Galway suburban network.
Commuter services are operated primarily using DMU "railcars,” with four separate classes operating on most routes:
|Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Number||Routes operated||Built|
|2600 Class||diesel multiple unit||70||110||8||Mallow-Cork-Cobh
Mallow-Tralee (Sundays only)
|2800 Class||diesel multiple unit||75||120||8||Limerick-Waterford
|29000 Class||diesel multiple unit||75||120||29||Dublin-Maynooth
|22000 Class||diesel multiple unit||100||160||28 3-car, 25 4-car & 10 5-car sets||Dublin-Maynooth
Dublin Kildare / Newbridge
Dublin-Mullingar / Longford
All of the DMU types can operate either independently, or can be attached to another set of their own class or of another class to form trains of up to ten cars.
In addition to the DMUs, locomotive-hauled coaches supplemented services. The introduction of the 22000 Class units on InterCity services allowed the 2800 Class and 29000 Class units to be cascaded to Commuter services, which allowed the locomotive hauled stock to be fully phased out by 2009.
Eventually, since all 63 22000 Class railcars were delivered in 2012, they operate all InterCity and some Commuter services in Dublin, excluding the Dublin-Cork route and the Dublin-Belfast route.
Irish Rail will be undertaking a major expansion of its Commuter services from 2020.
Under this plan, several commuter lines will be refurbished and re-opened - plans include:
- Reinstating a rail service to Navan which will connect with the Western Commuter Line into Dublin.
- Expanding the Cork suburban network with new stations between Cork and Mallow.
- Reopening the Western Rail Corridor between Limerick and Sligo in stages. Ennis to Athenry is complete.
- Enhance Commuter services into Galway including opening of Oranmore railway station
Feasibility studies have also been made into the possibility of creating airport links to several airports; a link to Knock Airport is a long term aim of the Western Rail Corridor project while a feasibility study into a link to Shannon Airport from Limerick was commissioned by Iarnród Éireann in 2006.
In June 2007, Irish Rail announced plans to reopen the old Dublin Broadstone station to serve as a new terminal station. It was planned to use this as the terminus for the planned line to Navan and, with certain realignment of the lines to the west of Dublin, as an alternate terminus for other services from Maynooth and the reopened Athlone-Mullingar line, relieving the congestion into Connolly and Heuston stations. Under IÉ's plans, Broadstone was to be reopened by 2010. However, the Railway Procurement Agency also intended to use the lands at Broadstone for part of its Luas project. On 5 February 2008 Noel Dempsey, the Minister for Transport, indicated his preference for the Luas project over the re-opening of Broadstone for heavy rail. To compensate for the loss of this potential terminus, which IÉ maintained was needed to reduce the congestion on Connolly and Heuston, the Government has stated it will allow a new application for planning permission to keep Docklands open permanently.
There have been calls by outside groups for other railway refurbishments to enhance commuter services:
- Drogheda-Navan - The pressure group Rail Users Ireland have been critical of the plan to reinstate the line to Navan in two stages, which will leave the town without a direct rail service until 2030. They have called for the refurbishment of the line between Navan and Drogheda, currently used by freight trains, to be reopened for passenger services, which could provide an immediate commuter service to Dublin taking 65 minutes.
- Mullingar-Athlone - There have also been calls, most especially by the Midland Railway Action Group, for the reopening of the link line that connects the Dublin-Sligo main line at Mullingar (into Dublin Connolly) and the Dublin-Galway/Westport main line at Athlone (into Dublin Heuston), restoring the railway network to the town of Moate, which was recommended in the strategic review which led to the Transport 21 proposals, and which is seen as essential to ensuring the economic growth of the Midlands region.
In March 2007, IÉ placed an order for five additional 6-car 22000 Class DMU sets, totalling €79 million, to be added to its initial order of 150 cars. These additional trains will be used on the outer Dublin suburban network to destinations including Portlaoise, Carlow and Athlone. A further order for an additional 51 cars, formed into 17 three-car units and totalling €140 million, was made in March 2009, for use to other suburban destinations, including Dundalk, Kildare, Longford and Navan.
In July 2007, IÉ announced that it was in the process of placing orders for a further 400 carriages. The bulk of these (up to 250 cars) are intended as EMUs for the expansion of the DART services following completion of the DART Underground. The remainder, totalling up to 150 cars, will be DMU sets for the expansion of Commuter services in Cork and Limerick, as well as the planned long-distance Commuter sets for services in Leinster. This project was cancelled in 2009.
- Iarnród Éireann initiate study on Shannon rail link
- IRRS 164
- Navan Already Has a Rail Line to Dublin - Rail Users Ireland
- Penrose raises Mullingar-Athlone rail project - Athlone Advertiser, 29 January 2009
- Iarnród Éireann orders DMUs Railway Gazette International 2009-03-02