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Dublin Area Rapid Transit

Dublin Area Rapid Transit
A DART 8500 Class train (8601) at Howth Junction & Donaghmede station
Type Suburban rail
System Iarnród Éireann
Status Operational
Locale Greater Dublin Area
Termini Malahide/Howth
Stations 31
Services 1
Opened 23 July 1984
Owner Iarnród Éireann
Operator(s) Iarnród Éireann
Rolling stock 8100 Class
8500, 8510 and 8520 Classes
Line length 53 km (33 mi)
No. of tracks 2
Track gauge 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)
Electrification 1500V DC
Operating speed 100 km/h (62 mph) maximum

The Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) is part of the suburban railway network in Ireland, running along the coastline of Dublin Bay on the Trans-Dublin route, from Greystones in County Wicklow through Dublin to Howth and Malahide in County Dublin, which carried around 16 million passengers in 2013.[1]

Trains are powered by 1500V DC overhead catenary. The national rail operator, Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail), administers the DART system since February 1987. On its inception in 1984, the DART was operated by Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ), of which IÉ is now a subsidiary. Part of the DART route, from the city centre to Dún Laoghaire, was the first railway in Ireland, opening as the Dublin and Kingstown Railway on 17 December 1834. It carries over 15 million passengers annually, which is around half the amount of the Luas passengers.[2]


  • Development and redevelopment of the DART 1
  • Operational details 2
    • Current fleet 2.1
    • Former fleet 2.2
    • Service 2.3
  • DART's competitors 3
  • Future 4
    • DART Underground 4.1
    • DART Line 1 4.2
    • DART Line 2 4.3
    • Future fleet 4.4
  • DART stations 5
    • List of DART stations 5.1
  • Gallery 6
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8

Development and redevelopment of the DART

The original DART service ran from Howth north-east of Dublin, through the city centre stations of Connolly, Tara Street, and Pearse, and south to Bray in County Wicklow. This remained the route for some 15 years, until the extension by one stop further south to the town of Greystones, and north from Howth Junction & Donaghmede by two stops further along the Belfast main line to Portmarnock and Malahide.

Through south Dublin, from Pearse Station to Dún Laoghaire, the DART runs over Ireland's oldest railway, dating from 1834. For most of its route south of the city centre, the DART hugs the coast closely, and the scenic views over Dublin Bay make it a popular tourist attraction.

Prior to the start of the electrified DART service in 1984, the line was previously operated by CIÉ 2600 Class diesel railcars dating from the early 1950s, which had been converted in the early 1970s to push-pull operation with a CIE 201 Class diesel locomotive at one end of the train and a driving trailer carriage at the other. The service was notoriously uncomfortable, unreliable, frequently overcrowded and in urgent need of upgrading. By the late 1970s, the 2600 Class diesel railcars were in a poor condition, with spare parts becoming increasing hard to obtain. The conversion to push-pull operation was a temporary expediency until an adequate replacement (i.e. the DART service) could be introduced.

In the early 1980s, in preparation for electrification, two new stations were added. Sandymount station at Sandymount Avenue was opened on the site where a station had previously stood, and Salthill and Monkstown was built near the site of the original Kingstown railway terminus, between Seapoint and Dún Laoghaire. At the time of the electrification work from 1981–82, the former branch to Dún Laoghaire pier used by ferry passengers was disconnected as the main track would have had to have been lowered to fit the overhead power cables under road bridges in Dún Laoghaire; some ten years later a new passenger ferry terminal was built immediately adjacent to the main Dún Laoghaire station. 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.[3]

Operational details

Current fleet

A mixed fleet of electric multiple unit trains provides the service:

 Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number   Routes operated   Built 
 km/h   mph 
8100 Class Electric Multiple Unit 100 62 37 Greystones/Bray-Malahide/Howth 1983
8500 Class Electric Multiple Unit 110 68 4 Greystones/Bray-Malahide/Howth 2000
8510 Class Electric Multiple Unit 110 68 3 Greystones/Bray-Malahide/Howth 2001
8520 Class Electric Multiple Unit 110 68 10 Greystones/Bray-Malahide/Howth 2003 - 2004

As of 2015, DARTs run at a frequency of every 15-20 minutes between Howth Junction and Bray off peak, with an extension to Greystones every half-hour, and a reduced frequency on Sundays. Extra trains run at peak times to the city centre. Trains north of Howth Junction split unevenly between Malahide and Howth, with Malahide DARTs being supplemented by Northern Commuter trains, however there is not a regular service pattern on either branch from one hour to the next. In April 2015, Iarnród Éireann announced plans to increase the trains' frequency to every 10 minutes by Spring 2016.

Trains normally run coupled as six-car or eight-car trains in the peak periods, typically between 07:00–09:30 and 17:00–18:30, and as four-car trains at other times. The four car sets typically operate on their own while six-car trains are made up of three 8100 Class units. It had been planned to allow the original 8100 Class sets to work in tandem with the newer sets. However, as of 2015, the 8100 Class remain operating on their own. Forty, two-car units were purchased initially – two were subsequently lost in a depot fire in 2001. The DART now carries more than 80,000 passengers daily. During 2003–05, development works were undertaken to lengthen platforms and improve disabled access at suburban stations and to upgrade the power grid. This enabled the lengthening of most peak time trains from 6 to 8 cars to reduce overcrowding.

Former fleet

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


A single person drives each train from a cab in the leading carriage. All trains have automatic sliding doors under the control of the driver. All trains in the Dublin suburban area including the DART are monitored and regulated by a Central Traffic Control (CTC) facility based in Connolly Station, known as Suburban CTC. Passenger information in the form of electronic information displays on each platform is updated in real time based on the progress of trains. Automatic PA announcements are made in case of delays – these announcements are tailored to each station. Due to extensive computer automation the main control room only needs a staff of four people: two signallers, one with responsibility for level crossings, an electrical control officer (ECO), who supervises the electrical power supply equipment and an overall supervisor. Normally only the main CTC control room is staffed, but back-up local control rooms are also provided, allowing services to continue in the event of serious technical problems.

Journeys require a ticket to be purchased before starting. As of 2015, a one-way adult ticket costs between €2.15 and €5.75, depending on distance travelled. To gain access to the platform passengers must pass through a gate that requires a valid ticket — the underside of the ticket is automatically printed with the date, time and a 3-digit code representing the station in which the ticket was validated. Since January 2015, ticket checks on the trains themselves are very frequent but mainly occur off-peak. Since 2011, exit validation equipment that requires a valid ticket to open the exit gate exists at all stations between Connolly and Greystones. The main form of fraud prevention remains the initial validation.

DART services can also be paid for using a Leap CardDublin's Travel Smart Card. These offer commuters cheaper fares, and can be used on DART, LUAS, Commuter Rail, Dublin Bus and some private operators. To pay using a Leap Card, users simply have to scan their card over the Smart Card reader on top of the gate when entering the station, and then again when the exit, and the appropriate fare is deducted. The Leap card system replaced Irish Rail's own smart card which was in operation until the integrated smart card system was launched.

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 the following day, St. Stephen's Day.

DART's competitors

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.[4]

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.


Under the Irish Government's investment programme, the DART was to be extended with a new tunnel under the city from Heuston Station to the new Docklands station in Spencer Dock. This tunnel, known as the DART Underground, would have allowed DART services to run from Celbridge/Hazelhatch to Heuston Station to St. Stephen's Green to Spencer Dock and on to Balbriggan. The existing DART line would have been modified to run from Bray to Maynooth. These two lines would have have an interchange at Pearse Station. The DART Underground project was cancelled on 22 September 2015.

DART Underground

The Irish Government had ambitious plans to significantly expand the DART service to the west of the city so as to provide a far superior transport system for Dublin.[5] A crucial part of this plan was the DART Underground rail tunnel under Dublin City, which would have provided for the electrification of the remainder of the commuter rail network. It would also have significantly expanded the DART service to the west of the city which would have involved carving the existing north-south line into two different services, each running to the west from the city centre. The DART Underground rail project, by tunnelling through the heart of Dublin would have allowed for a much more effective integration with other elements of Dublin's transport system once complete.

In November 2011 a Government decision was made to defer the DART Underground as national financial conditions meant that the project construction could not proceed during the period covered by the Government's "Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2012-2016: Medium Term Exchequer Framework". In the current NTA Integrated Implementation Plan 2013-2018 (published April 2014) it was proposed to protect DART Underground in line with the Government's decision on the next capital plan, due in 2016.

The DART Underground project was cancelled on 22 September 2015.

DART Line 1

The southern portion of the existing DART line would branch west after Connolly Station to run onto the Western Commuter line, which will be electrified as far as Maynooth. The branch to Navan will also be electrifed as far as Dunboyne, which will provide an intensive commuter service to these destinations.

8129 at Howth in October 1985

DART Line 2

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.[6]

Future fleet

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.[7]

DART stations

One of the best-known stations is at Lansdowne Road, the home of the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and the venue for Irish rugby and soccer international matches. Further south, the train stops at Sydney Parade, a street of some Georgian and many Edwardian and Victorian redbrick houses in the Dublin embassy belt.

List of DART stations

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


See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Passenger Journeys by Rail by Type of Journey and Year". Central Statistics Office. 
  3. ^ Melia, Paul (24 July 2009). "Symbol of Dublin proving its critics wrong 25 years on". Irish News. 
  4. ^ McCárthaigh, Seán (13 December 2011). "Leap card offers cheaper fares for public transport". Irish Examiner. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Puck, Brendan (14 April 2009). "Dart line to connect Drogheda with Dublin under Transport 21". An Irish Town Planner's Blog.  Notes that the source of the data is from Sunday Tribune.
  7. ^ "Iarnród Éireann to order 432 DART cars". Railway Gazette International. 30 October 2008. 
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