Minister Ryan gets preview of future of DART travel, as life size prototype of new DART+ fleet unveiled

Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan T.D. was at Inchicore Railway Works today for a preview of the next generation of DART travel.

29 March 2023

A life-size sample prototype of a new DART+ fleet carriage has been developed by manufacturers Alstom as part of the final phase of the design process. Throughout the process, from procurement to development phases, there has been ongoing customer and driver consultation using focus groups.  In total, 185 of the new carriages have been ordered to date, with delivery commencing in 2024 and entering service from 2025.

Funded under the National Development Plan 2021 to 2030 by the Department of Transport through the National Transport Authority, the order for the DART+ Fleet is part of the DART+ Programme, an investment which will more than double the commuter capacity and treble the electrification of the Greater Dublin Area rail network.  DART+ will facilitate sustainable mobility and development to enhance quality of life in our capital and its surrounding counties, through a series of fleet and infrastructure projects.  The number of people living within 1km of a DART station will increase hugely from about 250,000 at present to 600,000 in future.

Up to 750 carriages will be ordered over the next decade under a framework contract with leading manufacturer Alstom. They are being constructed at the company’s factory near Katowice in Poland.

Prototype reveals transformed DART travel environment

The prototype is located in Inchicore Works for final engagements with a range of customer focus groups, who have reviewed proposals throughout the design phase.  It demonstrates key features on the new fleet, including:

  • Prioritisation of independent access, with low-height doorway thresholds on all carriages equipped with an automatic retractable step and offering the potential for unassisted level access from suitable platforms, aligned with platform enhancements.  In addition, improved dedicated wheelchair spaces will be provided.
  • Improved facilities for families and for cyclists, with dedicated family areas, and bike areas.
  • Enhanced customer information, with large, high-resolution onboard displays having the ability to provide real-time updates, including information from other public transport systems in the Transport for Ireland network, and other features designed for the needs of sensory impaired customers.  The displays include features such as indicators for customers on busier areas of the train, advance notice of which side to exit the train.
  • Charging facilities throughout for connected customers on the move.
  • An advanced CCTV system with cameras throughout every carriage, to enhance safety and security for customers and employees.
  • Comfortable individual seating, reflecting longer distances which the DART+ fleet will operate, designed following customer focus group testing.
  • An ergonomic design for drivers, with driver focus groups also being a key part of the design process.

Speaking at the fleet preview in Inchicore, Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan T.D. said ”It is great to see this preview of the new DART+ carriages today, which customers have helped design and which will be available in the coming years. The DART+ Programme will transform our commuter system, vastly increasing the number of passengers who will have access to a quality and reliable rail network. This new fleet will facilitate DART trips to and from Drogheda from 2025 and then beyond that to the West and South West. With dedicated wheelchair, family and bicycle areas, the new fleet will ensure accessiblity to a wide variety of passengers at different times of the day and week, providing comfort and independence for all users.”

Chief Executive of the NTA, Anne Graham said“The framework for up to 750 electric/battery electric carriages, including 185 electric/battery electric carriages for DART, is a key part of the Greater Dublin Area Transport Strategy which we published recently.  These new carriages will be transformative, offering potential for independent access for all passengers, improved facilities for families and cyclists across the Dublin Metropolitan Area.  The developments in the DART+ programme will see a significant increase in the number of passengers living close to a DART station giving more people the option to use our expanding sustainable public transport network.

The use of the fleet prototype to facilitate early engagement on the design and key features of the new trains is welcomed, as it provides opportunities for members of the transport public to provide input into the design process by interacting with the key features of the new fleet.”

Chief of Executive of Iarnród Éireann, Jim Meade said: “Thanks to input from our customers and drivers, and the work of the Iarnród Éireann and Alstom teams, we can now experience what the future of DART+ transport will be like.  The sample carriage we see on display is modern, comfortable and customer centred and we look forward to having these carriages in use on our network serving new and existing communities for generations to come.”

Nick Crossfield, Managing Director Alstom UK and Ireland said: “We are delighted to be able to Iarnród Éireann and the Irish public their new DART+ train in the flesh. The trains demonstrate Iarnród Éireann’s intention to move quickly to decarbonise the commuter network in Greater Dublin, Ireland’s most populous suburban area. As a global leader in innovation and provider of green mobility solutions, Alstom is there to help Ireland bring transformative change to its citizens through sustainable rail transport.”


DART+ Fleet order

The initial 185 carriage DART+ fleet order comprises 30 electric and 155 battery-electric carriages, which have been ordered in two phases: 95 carriages (30 electric and 65 battery-electric) in December 2021 and a further 90 (all battery-electric) in December 2022.  The carriages:

  • Consist of 5-carriage train sets (equivalent in length to the 4-carriage train sets in the current DART fleet) providing high capacity with wide gangways between carriages.  This will allow customers to freely circulate throughout the full length of 5-carriage trains, creating a more open and spacious environment and enhancing security.  A 10-carriage train, made up of two 5-carriage train sets joined, will be the longest train size operable by the new fleet on current infrastructure, and will have capacity for at least 1,100 customers
  • Are designed for reduced energy consumption, enhancing further rail’s advantage in sustainable mobility for land transport.
  • Deliver off-wire operation through the incorporation of battery-electric technology, enabling new services and new capacity to be provided in the Greater Dublin area in advance of electrification.  Energy stored in the battery system will be replenished via fast charging stations at chosen terminus locations and by recovering braking energy while the new battery-electric trainsets are on the move.  This will enable, for example, the new battery-electric fleet to deliver Dublin to Drogheda return services, with fast charging at Drogheda Station
  • The initial 185-carriage orders will benefit a number of routes:
    • Sixty-five new battery-electric carriages will be deployed first on Drogheda to Dublin Northern Commuter services
    • New electric carriages will be deployed on existing Malahide/Howth to Bray/Greystones DART services, allowing all services to be operated at maximum length
    • The further 90 battery-electric carriages ordered in December 2022 will facilitate the overall DART+ network, with potential to use them on other parts of the rail network in advance of wider electrification, subject to available funding for necessary infrastructure.
    • Introduction of the new fleet will also free up existing carriages to increase capacity on other Commuter and Intercity services

In addition to the fleet, Alstom will provide a range of supports, including a Technical Support and Spares Supply agreement for the first 15 years of the fleet’s operation, and provision of three train simulators to support driver training

DART+ Programme Update

DART+ is the transformative programme that will ensure train travel is at the heart of Ireland’s sustainable transport network. Funded under the National Development Plan by the National Transport Authority, DART+ is an investment that will double the capacity and treble the electrification of the Greater Dublin Area network, facilitating sustainable mobility and development to enhance quality of life in our capital and its surrounding counties. The overall programme will provide electrification of lines on DART+ West to Maynooth/M3 Parkway, on DART+ South-West to Hazelhatch and DART+ Coastal North to Drogheda. DART+ Coastal South will also see key infrastructure works as far as Greystones to allow more trains to operate.