I have received a response from Iarnród Éireann to an Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) request. The request sought the following:
- Any analyses of potential operational patterns involving a shuttle service between Howth Junction and Howth, requiring passengers to change at Howth Junction to access Bayside, Sutton and Howth.
- Any analyses of the time delays or reduced capacity of the network at Howth Junction caused by the current arrangement where northbound trains to Howth cross the southbound track from Malahide.
- Any analyses of the time savings or increased capacity of the network should one or more Howthbound trains be replaced by a shuttle service.
- A copy of the terms of reference for “studies which will examine the doubling of track capacity between Dublin’s Connolly and Malahide train stations, where DART and intercity traffic currently share the same tracks”, for which funding was awarded on 22nd June.
In the public consultation in 2022 and in 2023 on Dart+ North, I asked repeatedly for the analysis as to how a shuttle service between Howth and Howth Junction might work both in terms of negative impacts on trips to Bayside, Sutton and Howth, and in terms of any benefits for trains from Malahide. In my 2022 submission I wrote:
“The reports are very clear about the selection of options as Iarnród Éireann has moved through this process, and show the criteria taken into account. Looking through the reports, especially the “Dart Expansion Options Assessment” there doesn’t seem to have been an analysis of this type for the proposal to develop infrastructure for a shuttle service to Howth. (The Dart Expansion Options Assessment compares a ‘do minimum’ bundle with four other bundles, each of which includes the Howth shuttle proposal. What about those bundles without the Howth shuttle?)
“I appreciate that the exact operational form of a shuttle service remains to be determined. However, there’s no point in developing infrastructure for such a service unless there are credible scenarios in which that infrastructure would be useful. Therefore there should be some sort of analysis of such likely operational scenarios.”
At the second public consultation IÉ made clear that they have no actual plans to run a shuttle service, no examples of how it might operate and indeed might never use the new infrastructure to run a shuttle service.
The result of the AIE request simply confirms the above. The impact of using the proposed infrastructure at Howth Junction in the manner for which it would be designed, i.e. a shuttle service, simply hasn’t been analysed.