“ The Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) is part of the suburban railway network in Ireland, running primarily along the coastline of Dublin Bay, from Greystones in county Wicklow to Howth and Malahide in Dublin. Trains are powered via a 1500v DC overhead power supply along a short section of the Irish standard gauge rail network of 1600mm (5'3"). The DART system is administered by the national rail operator, Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail). At the time of its inception in 1984, the DART was run by Coras Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) of whom Iarnród Éireann is now a subsidiary. Part of the DART's route, from the city centre to Dún Laoghaire, is of historic note it was the first railway in Ireland, opening as the Dublin and Kingstown Railway on 17 December 1834. The DART forms part of the Dublin Suburban Rail network. „
If it weren't for the light suburban rail system in Dublin called the Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) then the chances are very high that the inner city of Dublin would very quickly grind to a halt in the most monumental traffic jam anyone has ever seen since the invention of the motor car.
Dublin is a city of 1.5 million people, with many suburbs (Greater Dublin area) from which workers commute on a daily basis into the city. As it is the main arterial roads are under such intense pressure that they can barely cope with the sheer volume of traffic. But anyone living on a DART line is blessed, as they can whisk themselves into the city every morning in less time than it takes to eat their breakfast!
The DART takes enormous pressure of the transport infrastructure of Dublin City and suburbs. It first ran way back in 1984, and has constantly expanded its service and added new stations ever since. Only a few years back the DART extended the platforms and modernised most of their older stations in order to allow each train to pull more carriages, and thus increase the number of passengers they could carry, especially in the peak rush hour periods. It has grown exponentially as a result, and the last available figures show that on average the DART carries nearly 30 million passengers per year, or around 82,000 people every day.
One criticism of the DART is that it follows a fixed route, from the seaside village of Howth in the northern suburbs to the affluent and fast expanding town of Greystones in County Wicklow. (South of the city) The route follows the coast around Dublin Bay, and thus the DART is only really a viable public transport alternative for those commuters who live on or close to its line. But about 6 years back the Government opened a spanking new on-street tram system called the LUAS which serves many of the suburbs that the DART doesn't cover.
In fairness, there really isn't the space within the city for the DART to expand much more than it already has, as it shares lines with Irish Rail which have been in existence since the railway network first opened in Ireland back in the early 1800's.
Another criticism is that the new "Park and Ride" car parks that are now in existence at most suburban stations simply aren't large enough to accommodate the number of car drivers who would consider using the DART if only they could be assured of getting a parking spot for their cars each morning.
Timetables aren't bad. The DART runs from 6.30AM each morning until 11.30PM every evening. In recent times they have even began providing a late night service for revellers in the city centre at weekends and at busy public holiday periods such as Christmas, New Year, and St. Patrick's weekend. Trains run roughly every 20 to 30 minutes, with this frequency increasing to every 5 to 10 minutes in the peak periods. So you never have to wait too long for a train.
The route from Pearse Station in the city centre to Greystones is particularly picturesque, especially the line between Blackrock Village and Greystones. The train runs up into the cliffs above Dublin Bay, and some of the scenery is very spectacular. It's worth a trip if you ever visit Dublin for a weekend break or holiday.
Prices are reasonable, starting at a very affordable Euro1.80. Of course, they also have weekly/monthly/yearly commuter tickets available which saves regular passengers a fortune. Look at their website "http://www.iarnrodeireann.ie/dart/your_ticket/cash_fares.asp" for more details of fares. The Government also give regular DART users some of the cost back by way of tax credits, a fairly new initiative to try to encourage more commuters to avail of public transport rather than use their cars. (Clever!)
The carriages are fairly comfortable and clean, (it is public transport when all is said and done) and the service is very fast and reliable. You'll usually get a seat, the only exception being the rush hour periods when the carriages resemble a cattle truck! (In fairness, this is largely unavoidable)
Highly recommended by me as a quick, relatively inexpensive way to get around Dublin.
© KenJ February 2008