A life-size prototype of new electric and battery/electric powered train carriages set to be used in Ireland demonstrates improved accessibility features for disabled users.
Iarnród Éireann or Irish Rail, the operator of the national railway network of Ireland, supported by the National Transport Authority (NTA) and in partnership with railcar provider Alstom, has provision for commissioning up to 750 electric/battery electric powered vehicles over a 10-year timescale.
One of the primary objectives of the design of the DART+ Fleet is to provide improved accessibility for train users, such as low-level flooring and entrance doors to reduce the stepping height for passengers and improve access for persons with reduced mobility.
The new carriages will prioritise independent access, with each of the low-height doorway thresholds equipped with an automatic retractable step to offer the potential for unassisted level access from suitable platforms, aligned with platform enhancements.
Additionally, the new Fleet will also provide larger dedicated wheelchair spaces with easy access from adjacent doors, inductive hearing loops and new passenger information displays, to enhance customer information, including for sensory impaired customers and a mixture of seating and standing layouts to accommodate diverse passenger needs.
The prototype of the new DART+ fleet of carriages has been developed at Inchicore Railway Works, the major engineering centre for railways in Ireland.
Both electric and battery/electric powered trains are being invested in to allow the updates that make full use of the existing infrastructure while electrification is being progressed through the four DART+ projects.
The four projects include DART+ West – Maynooth/M3 Parkway to the City Centre, DART+ South West – Hazelhatch & Celbridge to the City Centre, DART+ Coastal North – Drogheda to the City Centre and DART+ Coastal South – Greystones to the City Centre.
The order of 750 electric/battery electric powered vehicles represents the purchase of the largest and most sustainable public transport fleet in Irish history.
Ultimately, the overall order will see the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) total rail fleet and up to 80 percent of all heavy rail journeys in Ireland, set for a potentially emissions-free future.
TGA, a supplier of mobility scooters and wheelchairs, and train operator Northern launched a partnership at the beginning of 2023 aimed at making train travel easier with a mobility scooter or wheelchair.