IARNRÓD ÉIREANN'S planned underground link between Dublin Docklands and Heuston Station in Dublin would have almost twice the capacity of Metro North, featuring stations at the back and front gates of Dáil Éireann, according to details released by the company yesterday.
In a presentation to the Institution of Engineers in Dublin last night, Iarnród Éireann revealed its "Dart underground" would feature 20 trains per direction per hour delivering a capacity of 70,000 passenger journeys per hour - significantly more than the capacity of Metro North, which envisages 36,000 to 40,000 people per hour.
The company refused to say how much the project would cost yesterday, but when first mooted in 2003 it was costed at €1.3 billion. Sources indicated that it would now be in the region of €2 billion. As such it compares to the construction cost of Metro North. The 5.2km line would link up all rail modes, surface level Dart, Commuter, Intercity, Luas and metro through five stations at Docklands, Pearse St, St Stephen's Green, Christchurch and Heuston Station.
Docklands Station is to be located north of the Liffey with an entrance at Spencer Dock's central square, while the Pearse underground station will have new entrances from the existing station and a new Trinity College development to the east.
Current engineering works at Pearse Station are taking into account the prospect of the new underground line. But work cannot begin on it until a railway order is applied for and granted.
The planned line, running at right angles to the existing railway, will also have an entrance at Merrion Square, adjacent to the back gate to Leinster House.
Adjacent to the front gate of Leinster House on Kildare Street there is to be an entrance to the St Stephen's Green underground station, which is to be the major hub for Dublin's commuter network, sharing a concourse with Metro North and connecting to the Luas. Station entrances will be from the Luas terminus, Grafton Street, St Stephen's Green north, and Kildare Street.
Christchurch underground station would see the area served by rail for the first time, with entrances from Winetavern Street and the centre of the Civic Offices complex. Heuston underground station will be accessed directly from the main front concourse of Heuston Station.
Asked about the twin entrances beside Leinster House, an Iarnród Éireann spokesman said the company "wanted Dart underground to be available to all".
The company said it hopes to apply for a railway order next year and the project is to be completed by 2015. The Dart underground line is to be developed as a twin-bore tunnel at about 30 metres deep, utilising five tunnel boring machines cutting through a predominantly limestone geology.
According to Iarnród Éireann, the interconnector offers the potential for a dramatic change in its services, with commuter capacity rising from the current 33 million per year to about 100 million journeys a year.
Commenting on the project yesterday, chairman of CIÉ Dr John Lynch said it would be "the single most important piece of infrastructure in the State to ensure a modal shift from private to public transport, and free future generations from the gridlock which cripples the greater Dublin area today."
Dr Lynch described the plan as "a central part of the Government's Transport 21 10-year transport investment plan", while Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey said it was "one of the most critical elements of Transport 21".
The Irish Times