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NTA - Drop in Short Distance Rail Travel

  • 21-02-2023 9:31pm
    Registered Users Posts: 10,650 ✭✭✭✭

    The National Transport Authority (NTA) was worried the Covid-19 pandemic had permanently ended some shorter distance trips by passengers on board Irish Rail services.

    In internal emails discussing the expansion and time extension for some services, the NTA said there was mounting evidence that some shorter trips had "gone" and "may not ever fully return".

    An analysis of various routes showed that people were still taking inter-city trips but that many passengers taking shorter hop journeys had simply vanished.

    An email from Marian Wilson, their Head of Service Planning, said the percentage of people travelling all the way from Dublin to Waterford now made up a clearly bigger proportion of all passengers.

    "Ditto for Dublin [to] Sligo and for Dublin [to] Tralee," she wrote.

    "This supports our overarching thesis that shorter distance rail patronage has gone and may not ever fully return."

    The NTA had been asked by government to explore running extra services on some routes, as well as offering journeys earlier or later in the day.

    In internal discussions in late summer last year, Marian Wilson said care needed to be taken about drawing conclusions from a one-day headcount of rail travel that takes place every November on a Thursday.

    "How indicative this is of non-work based travel particularly at weekends, and during better summer weather driven by demand to attend events, catch up with friends [or] family post-pandemic, continue the trend of seeing the country itself thereby avoiding Dublin and other airports, is anyone's guess," she said.

    "In many ways, trying to forecast future usage by interpreting very scant trends over the recent past during a shock [the pandemic] is ridiculous."

    Caution was also urged about counting only end-to-end usage on certain routes, especially from Dublin to Westport.

    An email pointed out that Castlebar was the second to last stop on the route and that there was a shuttle from Manulla Junction to both Ballina and Foxford.

    "These numbers represent a far higher proportion of those leaving Dublin in each year than if considering only Westport," said her email.

    Full article:

    I don't think there is any real suprise here. I wonder how the stats might have changed over the last 3-4 months as many companies have become more strict on remote working and how many days people need to be in the office.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 22,166 Mod ✭✭✭✭bk

    No surprise at all that folks who live at long commute distances are choosing to stick to working from home, it is a god send for them.

    Most companies still not willing to risk losing such experienced staff if they try and force them into the office and many people willing to up and move companies now that they have gotten a taste for the benefits of WFH.

    I’m surprised to hear that the NTA can’t properly model out weekend / special event usage from Leap Card and ticket sales data that they most have to get a proper overview of year round usage! Might want to hire a data analyst or two there.

    Also might help if the NTA pulled their finger out on reforming the tax saver scheme to take into account folks who work a hybrid of work from home and the office.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,609 ✭✭✭maninasia

    They did one survey in November and drawing conclusions from that?

    "In internal discussions in late summer last year, Marian Wilson said care needed to be taken about drawing conclusions from a one-day headcount of rail travel that takes place every November on a Thursday."

    F$%k me its Amateur hour.

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,322 ✭✭✭✭LXFlyer

    Remember this is reflecting emails in summer 2022 and the headcount would have been in the previous November.

    The world has moved on somewhat and more people are returning to the office and college.

  • Registered Users Posts: 365 ✭✭Ireland trains

    Also interesting they mentioned a weekend/summer from Bray to Wexford while also adding a 20:00 Heuston-Cork