Sunday 15 November 2009

Viaduct commuters 'prefer buses'

Hundreds of north Dublin commuters will continue travelling by bus instead of train despite the Malahide viaduct reopening tomorrow, it was claimed today.

Bus chiefs agreed to keep the 33X and 33D replacement services operating after disgruntled rail passengers said they found them quicker and less crowded.

Dublin Bus said the routes would be kept going for the next two weeks and scaled down gradually, but they could become permanent.

Fianna Fáil Dublin North TD Michael Kennedy, who campaigned for the continuation of the replacement services, said he believed the demand was there.

“I’m fairly confident from the discussions I’ve had with the commuters that there’s a significant amount of those people that will prefer buses in the future,” he said.

“People are showing a preference for the bus because it gets them closer to their homes and they don’t have to walk or drive to the station.”

Mr Kennedy said passengers felt the train was slower and they were able to get a seat on the bus. “Hundreds of people have told me they would transfer to the buses,” he said.

There was just one 33x from Skerries to Dublin City Centre before the viaduct collapse, increased to 20 after the incident. There will be 13 inbound and outbound from tomorrow.

There was no 33D, but four now run to and from Donabate train station and Tara Street. Each double-decker bus has a seating and standing capacity of around 92.

A Dublin Bus spokeswoman said: “Dublin Bus is aware that people’s travel patterns have changed over the weeks and is committed to continue to carry these people.”

Iarnród Éireann said it accepted passengers’ travel plans had changed but were confident customers would return to the service. A spokesman said packed and busy commuter trains were a feature of city life.

Rail bosses have also assured passengers the Malahide viaduct would be safe to

use when it reopened tomorrow morning. Test trains weighing 75 tonnes each have been operating on the repaired line, which collapsed into the estuary three months ago.

An Iarnród Éireann spokeswoman said: “They’d be the heaviest rolling stock over the lines.

Engineers are going very slowly over the track to make sure that nothing appears when they’re testing and there is no stress on the track.”

Although a full accident report into the incident will not be published until the new year, the rail firm maintains that erosion of the weir at seabed level caused the support to one pier to be undermined.

Repair works costing €4 million to restore the viaduct included rebuilding the pier and strengthening foundations, strengthening all the piers along the viaduct and relaying the track.

Speed over the line will be reduced to 25mph for the first two weeks, before being raised to 50mph for another fortnight and then eventually 90mph.

On August 21st, when a train driver spotted the signs of subsidence on the track, all trains were stopped before a 20m section of the viaduct collapsed into the sea.

Irish Times

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