Problems with Draft Transport Strategy for Greater Dublin Area 2035—-Submission re Wicklow
The Strategy needs to be radically changed for Wicklow. I would welcome the opportunity to meet with the NTA and/or Irish Rail to discuss these detailed points:
• The Strategy will not work South of Bray Head as it proposes 3 conflicting public transport options in different parts of the report. 2 of these (the present service and a shuttle) will not cater for the demand and will not work properly. The third, 10 DART’s per hour from Kilcoole, will work well but the report does not mention that this will need a very large investment in a twin track tunnel through Bray Head. It has not been thought through.
• The NTA model assumes a base 2011 Public Transport Demand from Greystones which is only half the actual 2015 usage. The model is very flawed.
• It does not conform to the Regional Planning Guidelines, implemented in the Draft County Development Plan (CDP), which requires a 49% population growth South of Bray whereas the Strategy predicts only a 26% increase in transport demand. Demand growth will be much higher.
• A major investment is being made to allow diesel trains from Kildare/Maynooth & the Northern line to get to Pearse station but the Wicklow line, already connected to it, gets no extra diesel slots. Instead an inferior shuttle is suggested, the only one anywhere. This must change.
• A service of 5 DARTs from Greystones, 2 or 3 diesels of 8 carriages from Arklow and 2 shuttle services can and should be provided with some track and signalling investment. This is detailed in this submission but the NTA Strategy ignores this investment.
• The LUAS to Bray is planned but no mention is made of transport to Fassaroe. The CDP plans a 9,000 population increase in Bray most of which will be in Fassaroe.
• The modelling appears to have used the wrong capacity for diesel trains.
• A much better direct bus service is required compared to the recommendation as the study ignores most existing services.
Transport Options Studied by NTA Strategy
The Overall Strategy (OS) states (4.2.6) that extra rolling stock and signalling will allow faster and more frequent intercity/regional /DART trains. But 6.3 states that South of Greystones capacity increases will be by shuttle with DART interchange at Greystones with no mention of extra intercity/regional. 5 minute DART intervals are predicted but no mention is made of the need for a new tunnel in Bray Head to achieve this frequency. 9.7 shows south of Bray to have the highest load capacity of 50-75% of any heavy rail line. The rest are under 25%.
The detailed South East Corridor Study conflicts with the Overall Study and has no mention or testing of a shuttle.
• The model (table 7.2) shows 10 DARTS in the peak hour from Kilcoole (screenline 0) in 2035 and thus no capacity problem. The 2035 Service Plan (table 6.1) shows 1 Intercity only, only 2 DARTs from Greystones and no Shuttle (the same service as now), so massive capacity problems! The model (Annex 1) assumes a diesel capacity of 8 carriages but on this line there are only 3 or 4 carriage sets used.
• The model (figure 6.6) shows that each Bray to Maynooth DART (6 per hour) board 85 people at Greystones. The low boarding rate is explained by some suppositions, none of which is that Greystones is South of Bray and thus not on the route. The model is wrong.
• The Summary, (6.4) states that in the South of the area public transport is not attracting the demand which might be expected. This must be because of the errors in the model.
Strategy has underestimated existing Public Transport Usage by 50%. Projections are thus underestimated.
The NTA has assumed a base Public Transport demand for 2011 of 900 going from Greystones at the peak hour (figure 6.3 Screenline 1). I counted 1781 in November 2015. Details in Appendix. Partly this is because it seems to have ignored most of the busses. It recommends a service of 2 peak hour busses on the N11 in 2035 even though there are 7 at present!
Population Plans and Transport Demand. Demand is significantly underestimated
The Wicklow Draft County Development Plan to 2022/5 has population growth of 49% South of Bray. The Strategy has All Transport demand growth of only 26% as against 43% for Bray and further in. Public Transport demand is going to grow by a multiple of the NTA study figures, at least at the average of the population growth rates above and more probably at above the average as the roads get more congested. These population targets are compulsorily handed down to WCC through the Regional Planning Guidelines by Central Government. They also require the expansion to be in towns with rail. Central Government Agencies such as the NTA must cater for these targets and provide a rail service. Detailed population growth figures are: Wicklow 64%, Arklow 62%, Greystones 32%, Newtown 78%, Rathdrum 93%, in sum 49% growth.
Public Transport demand growth estimates in Greystones are far too low. Figure 3.5 shows PT growth as 1600 at screenline 0 (south GS), 1700 screenline 1 (between GS and Bray). Thus 100 PT growth in GS. The population growth is planned as 5,600 which will have a much greater increase in users. The model (fig 6.3) suggests there is only a 900 person PT demand in 2011. I would think that this would be much higher between DART, Intercity, 84x, 84, 184 and the 133 on the N11.
Other problems with the Strategy:
• The peak loading of a 2 per hour DART will mean that no one will get on after Bray. Also the traffic jams to a Park n’ Ride site will be severe. This is already noticeable now.
• A shuttle train will only be able to do 2 services, one from Arklow and one from Wicklow in any hour. It will need changes to Greystones station.
• A Bray Greystones shuttle was tried before but was not successful, had low usage and was discontinued. Greystones people were then known as being late for work and in TCD being late for lectures and exams. The main transport must be direct trains with a possible supporting role for a shuttle.
• The study states (2.3.3) the Wicklow 133 bus comes to Greystones, this is not correct. It omits the successful 84x service from Newcastle/Greystones.
• It recommends that the 133 be increased to 2 per hour. This will need to be much more. Also the 84x will need to be increased.
• It recommends a feeder bus around Greystones but if there are only 2 DARTs in the peak hour this will not connect well and have a low usage. Feeder busses need a frequent DART to allow easy transfers.
• It suggests that a capacity increase of the M11 can only go as far south as Wilford junction, north of Bray. Observation is that it can go at least as far as Fassaroe and possibly further.
• The Strategy provides no public transport for the many commuting to the M50 and West Dublin. Express busses using the M50 would be the only way of competing with car journey times.
• The modelling for the whole study uses a diesel seated capacity of 370 and design capacity of 409 for an 8 car set (Annex 1 & table 4.1). This seems the capacity of a 6 car set according to Irish Rail. 8 car sets have been seen which would have a capacity of 1.33 of the above. The higher figure should be used in the model.
Improvements needed to Wicklow Train and Bus Services to 2035.
• An extra diesel service from Arklow/Gorey at rush hour.
o Considerable investment is being made resignaling from Connolly to Grand Canal Dock to increase the train paths per hour from 12 currently to at least 17 and possibly 20. Most of these are said to be for Maynooth and Kildare diesels. At least one of these should be used by a new service from Arklow/Gorey running at about 8.15 from Greystones giving 2 peak hour services.
• Saturday services Greystones DART.
o Currently these are hourly. They need to be half hourly.
• Park n Ride facilities at all stations need to be considered and improved.
• An extra peak hour DART should be run from Greystones being sent down early to wait in the South siding. In the medium term this siding should be lengthened to allow 2 DARTS to be stored for 2 extra peak hour services.
• Extra 133 and 84x express services are needed. Also a DART feeder bus in Greystones and Bray. Extra busses are needed from Blessington/Baltinglass to the LUAS.
• A footpath is needed to Kilcoole station.
• A pedestrian and cycle bridge is needed over the track at La Touché Place Greystones.
• In summary a Greystones peak hour of 3 DARTs and 2 diesels from Arklow.
• Diesel trains to Wicklow need to be lengthened as they seem to be a maximum of 4 carriages long. DART and diesel trains to Maynooth and the Northern line are 8 carriages. Platforms will need to be lengthened at a number of stations south of Greystones. This is to make maximum use of the train signalling slot.
• The single line constraint on services to Greystones is the major constraint on services south of Bray. This can be eased to allow a 20 or possibly 15 minute service. The single section takes just less than10 minutes at present (see timings overleaf). The contention period of single track working can be brought down to under 7 minutes. Double tracking from Greystones to the tunnel could bring the single section to 8 minutes. Work can be done at Bray station to allow a double track and shorten this by 1 min 30 sec. When preliminary work was underway on the Greystones Harbour site, some 10 years ago, Irish Rail insisted that land must be left to double track the line. Thus most can be easily double tracked. A rock cutting and bridge North of Greystones station need to be widened. The timings below show the train spends less than 5 mins in the most difficult to expand section from the cliff start in Bray to the tunnel exit Greystones. A faster signal/points system such as that from Connolly to Grand Canal Dock will be needed for faster points changes and to allow trains in the same direction to be run closer.
• A diesel shuttle service to Greystones could be considered probably with passing loops, only provided the main demand is catered for by a second or third Intercity. This could provide 2 services at the peak hour or just after. The first from Arklow and the second from Wicklow. This will need track changes at Greystones and might be restricted to 2 carriages due to space shortage. It will need careful coordination to ensure the trains connect.
• In summary 5 DARTs from Greystones, 2 or 3 Intercity of 8 carriages from Arklow and 2 shuttle services
• Bus services from Greystones need to double to 20 and on the N11 at Kilmacanoge to 15.
• LUAS to Bray as per the strategy but with consideration as to how to service Fassaroe.
• Adequate arrangements are needed for a Rail to Luas interchange in Bray and land should be reserved for this. The level crossing in Bray needs an underpass to allow this interchange and for busses to access the Seafront and Depot.
• Most of the time a 20 mph speed limit is in place from Dun Laoghaire to Sandycove. This is a very low limit for a modern commuter rail system. This slows the service and can cause trains to bunch up. Work needs to be done to increase this limit. Often it goes slowly on the fairly straight section from Dalkey to Sandycove, currently a 30 mph limit.
• Reopen the stations at Newcastle and Avoca.
Detailed description of Greystones to Bray DART journey and times.
Times from leaving Greystones.
Entrance to tunnel. 2min 40sec
Cutting at Bray Cliff Path bridge 7m 30s
Start sidings 7m 54s
Goes slowly to Bray station
Bray stop 9m 27s
Return times from leaving Bray.
Leave siding area 1m 45s
Start cliff 2m 32s
Out tunnel 7m 10s
Points Greystones 9m 18s
Stop Greystones 9m 55s
The author: Cllr. Derek Mitchell, BAI, MSc, FCA wrote a 30 page study ‘Rail Options for Greystones’ in 1992. The Managing Director of Irish Rail, C. D. Waters, stated that this had studied the issue in more detail than Irish Rail and he broadly agreed with the conclusion; to extend DART. The subsequent usage figures have exceeded the projections in the study. He initiated Wicklow County Council providing the Greystones Park n’ Ride, with 500 spaces by far the largest on the DART network and fully used. He is Chairman of Wicklow County Council’s Transport, Roads and Environment Strategic Policy Committee.
The photograph with the printed version shows over 350 people waiting for the 08.00 DART from Greystones.