The Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) is part of the suburban railway network in Ireland, running mainly 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.
Trains are powered via a 1500V DC overhead catenary along part of the Irish Rail Network, all of which is Irish Broad Gauge. The national rail operator, Iarnród Éireann (IE), administers the DART system. On its inception in 1984, the DART was operated by Coras Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) of whom IE is now a subsidiary. Part of the DART route, from the city centre to Dún Laoghaire, is of historic note — it was the first railway in Ireland, opening as the Dublin and Kingstown Railway on 17 December 1834. The DART forms part of the Dublin Suburban Rail network.
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 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 Dun Laoghaire pier used by ferry passengers was disconnected as the main track would have had to have been lowered in order to fit the overhead power cables under road bridges in Dun Laoghaire; some ten years later a new passenger ferry terminal was built immediately adjacent to the main Dun Laoghaire station.
Under the Irish Government's Transport 21 investment programme, the DART is 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 Interconnector or DART Underground, will allow 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 will be modified to run from Bray to Maynooth. These two lines will have an interchange at Pearse Station.
They normally run coupled as eight- or six-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. Japanese sets typically operate with an Alstom unit to make a six-car train. Work is currently under way to allow the original LHB sets to work in tandem with the newer sets. 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 2003-5, 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.
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 2007, a one-way ticket costs between €1.20 and €3.80, depending on distance travelled. To gain access to the platform passengers must pass through a turnstile 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. Ticket checks on the trains themselves are relatively rare and mainly occur off-peak. Generally, a member of staff checks tickets on arrival at each destination. Exit validation equipment that requires a valid ticket to open the exit gate exists at stations between Connolly and Lansdowne Road. The main form of fraud prevention remains the initial validation.
Iarnród Éireann currently operates a rail monopoly. The only other company to operate on lines in the Republic of Ireland is Northern Ireland Railways, which operates a joint railway service between Dublin and Belfast named Enterprise.
A number of other transport modes are available in Dublin. Apart from the two most popular modes of transport, walking and private vehicle, 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. Some types of unlimited travel passes can be purchased which are valid for both rail and Dublin Bus or rail and Luas (tram) services but apart from that ticketing is not integrated. Plans by the Railway Procurement Agency to introduce comprehensive integrated ticketing have made slow progress.
The Irish Government has ambitious plans to significantly expand the DART service to the west of the city under Transport 21 so as to provide a far superior transport system for Dublin. A crucial part of this plan is the Interconnector rail tunnel under Dublin City, which will provide for the electrification of the remainder of the commuter rail network. It will also significantly expand the DART service to the west of the city which will involve carving the existing north-south line into two different services, each running to the west from the city centre.
Under these plans, the Interconnector would be constructed linking the northern portion of the DART line (North of Connolly Station) to the Kildare line via the 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 in order to continue service on the Kildare line.
Simultaneously, the Southern Portion of the existing DART line would branch west after Connolly Station to continue service on the electrified Maynooth commuter line. The Interconnector rail project, by tunnelling through the heart of Dublin will allow for a much more effective integration with other elements of Dublin's transport system once complete.
North of Howth Junction
Northeast of Howth Junction
South of Howth Junction
South of the River Liffey