Dublin Area Rapid Transit

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Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART)
Dublin DART Logo.jpg
Howth Junction railway station in 2007.jpg
An 8500 class DART train at Howth Junction
Other name(s) DART
Type Commuter Rail
Status Active
Locale Dublin
Termini Malahide/Howth
Stations 31
Services 1
Ridership 16,000000
Website http://www.irishrail.ie/
Opened 23 July 1984
Operator(s) Iarnród Éireann
Rolling stock 8100 Class
8500 Classes
Line length 53 km (33 mi)
Number of tracks 2
Track gauge 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)
Electrification 1500 V DC Overhead Line
Operating speed 100 km/h (62 mph)
DART Newtork Map
Howth Junction
and Donaghmede
Clontarf Road
Fairview Depot
River Tolka
Western Commuter
& Sligo Line
Docklands(Luas Spencer Dock)
The Royal Canal
Dublin ConnollyLuas
Luas Red Line
to Dublin Heuston
Luas Red Line
to The Point
Loopline Bridge
Tara Street
Dublin Pearse
Grand Canal Dock
Lansdowne Road
Sydney Parade
Salthill and Monkstown
Dún Laoghaire
Sandycove and Glasthule
Bray Daly

The Dublin Area Rapid Transit system, officially and popularly known as the DART, is an electrified rapid transit railway network serving the coastline and city centre of Dublin, capital city of the Republic of Ireland. The service makes up the core of Dublin's suburban railway network, stretching from Greystones, County Wicklow at its southernmost terminus to Howth and Malahide in north County Dublin. The DART services 31 stations and consists of 53 kilometres of track, and carries in the region of 16 million passengers per year.[1]

The DART system has operated as an electrified railway since 1984 when it was established by Córas Iompair Éireann to replace an ageing fleet of diesel powered locomotives. With the disbanding of CIÉ, the running of the service was taken over in 1987 by Iarnród Éireann, Ireland's national rail operator. The track bed on which DART services currently run was originally laid out by the Dublin and Kingstown Railway, Ireland's first railway line, which ran from Dún Laoghaire to Dublin city centre and opened on 17 December 1834. The northern and southern extensions to this line are parts of the Belfast and Wexford main lines respectively.

Integrated ticketing with Dublin Bus and Luas, Dublin's redeveloped tram network has been in place since the 2011 introduction of the Leap Card. Contemporary Rolling stock on the DART network is powered by 1500V DC overhead overhead lines and uses the Irish 1,600mm gauge. DART services are expected to be extended as far as Balbriggan in north County Dublin by 2022, adding four stations to the electrified network.[2] Additional development, including the construction of DART Underground is planned, but has been postponed due the post-2008 Irish economic downturn.


Initial Development[edit]

The section of trackbed between Dún Laoghaire and Dublin City was originally laid out as part of the Dublin and Kingstown Railway. This railway was later connected with the Belfast mainline to the north and Wexford mainline to the south and joined the Harcourt Street Railway at Woodbrook. The section of track between Dalkey and Killiney runs along sections of track which are among the oldest in Ireland. The scenic views from the railway over Dublin Bay at this point have been favourably compared to those on the Gulf of Naples[3] and have resulted in trips to Killiney Hill and Greystones along the line becoming popular tourist attractions.

Prior to electrification in 1984, the line was operated using 1950s era CIÉ 2600 Class rail cars which had been converted in the early 1970s to push-pull operation. These diesel powered trains were powered on one end by a CIE 201 Class locomotive and a driving trailer carriage on the other. This service was notoriously uncomfortable, unreliable and overcrowded. By the late 1970s, the need for an urgent upgrade to the system had become apparent as the 2600 rail cars were in poor condition. Replacement parts had become increasingly difficult to obtain due to the age of the rolling stock and its conversion to push-pull operation, which had been intended as a temporary measure until a more permanent solution could be established, had come to the end of its serviceable life.

In advance of electrification, two new stations at Sandymount and Salthill and Monkstown were added to the network in the early 1980s. Sandymount was built at the site of a previous station while Salthill and Monkstown was built near the site of the original Kingstown railway terminus, between Seapoint and Dún Laoghaire. As electrification work was undertaken from 1981-1982, a spur which had served the ferry port at Dún Laoghaire was disconnected from the main line as the installation of overhead power lines to service the harbour would have necessitated the lowering of the track which travelled through a portal south of Dún Laoghaire station. Some ten years later a new passenger ferry terminal was built immediately adjacent Dún Laoghaire. Its busiest day was on 4 July 1996, when 250,000 people went to Dún Laoghaire to visit the US aircraft carrier, USS John F Kennedy.[4]

Early DART services ran from the north-eastern suburb of Howth, through Connolly, Tara Street, and Pearse stations in the city centre and on to Bray which lies on the border between Dublin and Wicklow. This route remained unchanged for some fifteen years at which point the line between Bray and Greystones was electrified. Further lengthening of the line took place between Howth Junction & Donaghmede and Malahide, the northernmost DART station, on the Belfast main line.


The DART service is operated by a mixed fleet of electric multiple unit trains. As of 2016, the trains run every fifteen minutes on weekdays with a reduced service on weekends. Extra trains are run between certain more heavily trafficked stations and the city centre at peak times to alleviate overcrowding. Trains north of Howth Junction are split unevenly between Howth and Malahide, the majority of DART services travel to Howth before turning around to return to the city centre while the Malahide service is supplemented by Northern Commuter trains. Iarnród Éireann in 2015 announced its intention to install a ten-minute frequency on DART services at peak times during weekdays. By 2016 however, it was found that such a service would not be possible to implement [5]

Trains are typically run as six or eight car sets at peak periods between 07:00-09:30 and 17:00-18:30. Off peak, capacity is reduced with two or four car sets running. Four car sets typically consist of a single 8500 class train while six car sets are made up of three 8100 class units. Both classes had been worked in tandem prior to the refurbishment of the ageing 8100 class in 2007 after which both have been run separately.

Forty two-car 8100 class units were purchased to service the initial network. Two of these were damaged beyond repair in a depot fire in 2001. Expanding passenger numbers and the need to refurbish the ageing 8100 series saw the purchase of four 8500 series train sets in 2000. These were complemented with three 8510 sets in 2001 and ten 8520 class sets in 2003. The now out of service 8200 class sets which were first run in 2000 operated until 2008 at which point they were withdrawn and sold due to longstanding technical issues. A redevelopment of the network's stations was undertaken between 2003 and 2005 to lengthen platforms to accommodate six and eight car sets, upgrade the power grid, and improve accessibility for disabled passengers.


All trains in the Dublin suburban area, including DART services, are monitored and regulated by a Central Traffic Control (CTC) facility located in Connolly Station, known as Suburban CTC. This facility has been extensively automated and requires a staff of five; two signallers, one with responsibility for level crossings, an electrical control officer, who supervises the electrical power supply equipment and an overall supervisor. The main CTC is staffed at all times however, there are also backup local control rooms which allow services to continue in the event of serious technical problems.

A single driver is responsible for the management of each train from the cab in the leading carriage. Automatic doors are controlled by the driver and are armed upon arrival at stations. Real time passenger information displays on station platforms offer passengers updates on next train arrival times, service updates and outages. Automatic PA announcements are made in case of service disruptions and are tailored to each station.

The majority of stations on the network have been renovated to include automatic barriers which require passengers to submit their ticket for verification before they can set foot on the platform. A ticket is required in advance of boarding DART services and can be purchased at stations from manned kiosks and automated machines. Passengers can also avail of the option of using a Leap Card, Dublin's integrated ticketing scheme. Leap cards are offered as contactless cards onto which passengers can load set ticket options or a cash balance. Leap fares are typically cheaper than paying in cash for a journey.On the DART network, users tag on at their point of entry and tag off at their exit point. Irish Rail, along with Dublin's other public transport operators operated its own smart card system which was phased out concurrent to the Leap Card's introduction. Revenue protection officers check passengers tickets to ensure validity both on board trains and on station platforms at random intervals.

DART services begin at 05:40 and end at 00:25 from Monday to Saturday. On Sunday they begin at 08:53 and finish at 00:19. No DART services run on Christmas Day or St. Stephen's Day.

DART Network[edit]

List of DART Stations[edit]

North of Howth Junction

Malahide, Portmarnock, Clongriffin

Northeast of Howth Junction

Howth, Sutton, Bayside

South of Howth Junction

Howth Junction & Donaghmede, Kilbarrack, Raheny, Harmonstown, Killester, Clontarf Road, Connolly

South of the River Liffey

Tara Street, Pearse, Grand Canal Dock, Lansdowne Road, Sandymount, Sydney Parade, Booterstown, Blackrock, Seapoint, Salthill & Monkstown,

South of Dún Laoghaire

Dún Laoghaire, Sandycove & Glasthule, Glenageary, Dalkey, Killiney, Shankill, Bray, Greystones


Plans were laid out to expand the DART network beyond the coastal main line and provide service To the north and west of the city. Part of this expansion was to consist of a purpose built tunnel linking the Docklands Station at Spencer Dock in the city's quays and Heuston Station This tunnel, termed DART Underground, would have seen services run from Celbridge/Hazelhatch to the Docklands via St. Stephen's Green. To accommodate this change, the existing line was to be realigned to run from Greystones in the south to Maynooth with the electrification of the Connolly to Maynooth line. An interchange at Pearse Street was to connect the proposed lines. The DART Underground project was however, cancelled in September 2015.[6] The plans for expanded services remain in place pending the release of funding.

DART Line 1[edit]

The southern portion of the existing DART line was to branch west after Connolly Station to run onto the Western Commuter line, which is to be electrified as far as Maynooth. The branch to Navan is also be electrifed as far as Dunboyne, which is intended to increase the frequency of services on these lines.

8129 at Howth in October 1985

DART Line 2[edit]

The Northern portion of the DART line (North of Connolly Station) will be linked using the DART Underground to the Kildare line via Docklands station at Spencer Dock and Heuston Station. This strategic tunnel would link the DART directly with existing Luas light rail lines, hundreds of bus routes, planned Metro lines and extend the high frequency DART service to the Kildare commuter line. A DART service originating from the Northside (i.e. Howth) would divert to the Docklands and from there through a tunnel to Heuston station to continue service on the Kildare line. In April 2009, it was announced that an electrification project would extend the DART as far as Drogheda.[7]

Rolling Stock[edit]

Current Fleet[edit]

 Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number   Routes operated   Built 
 km/h   mph 
8100 Class Dart-8306-00.jpg Electric Multiple Unit 100 62 37 Greystones/Bray-Malahide/Howth 1983
8500 Class Howth Junction railway station in 2007.jpg Electric Multiple Unit 110 68 4 Greystones/Bray-Malahide/Howth 2000
8510 Class 8700 EMU - 8614.jpg Electric Multiple Unit 110 68 3 Greystones/Bray-Malahide/Howth 2001
8520 Class DART Connolly.jpg Electric Multiple Unit 110 68 10 Greystones/Bray-Malahide/Howth 2003 - 2004

Former Fleet[edit]

 Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number   Routes operated   In service 
 km/h   mph 
8200 Class DART Unit 8203.jpg Electric Multiple Unit 100 62 5 Greystones/Bray-Malahide/Howth 2000 - 2008

Future Fleet[edit]

In October 2008, Iarnród Éireann announced plans for a massive expansion of the DART fleet, with a €900 million order for a total of 432 individual EMU cars for delivery between 2011–2012. Due to the economic downturn this delivery was put on hold until the future.[8]

DART's competitors[edit]

Irish Rail operates a rail monopoly. The only other company to operate on lines in the Republic of Ireland is Northern Ireland Railways, which jointly operates the cross-border Enterprise service between Dublin and Belfast.

A number of other public transport modes are available in Dublin. The CIÉ-owned Dublin Bus is virtually ubiquitous, running all over the city. As such, it has many routes that run parallel to DART for stretches. However, it does not have any scheduled routes that traverse the entire length of the DART line. As in the rest of Ireland, integration of bus and rail services is very limited though there are some "feeder bus" routes for which it is possible to buy a through ticket valid for both the rail and bus section of the journey. Travel passes and integrated ticketing (Leap Cards) for DART, Luas and Dublin Bus services were introduced in 2011.[9]

The Luas light rail system, which partially integrates with the DART at Connolly Station, is not seen as a competitor, as neither of its routes run along similar routes to DART.


The Dart travels to the main areas of Dublin including Connolly Station, Pearse, Dun Laoghaire and Tara Street

See also[edit]