COMMUTERS using Dublin's Heuston Station, the country's busiest railway terminus, are to be spared major disruption when a tunnel linking it with the city centre is built.
Ending the line at Heuston would have required massive engineering and road works including acquiring expensive land to build more tracks to accommodate the trains and the tunnel entrance.
Now, while passengers will still alight underground at Heuston, the trains will terminate further down the line on Irish Rail land in nearby Inchicore which has ample space for the trains that will use the tunnel.
The €2bn project is due to come on stream in 2015. Extending the line to Inchicore will mean services at Heuston Station will not be affected during construction.
Deemed the most important public transport project in the capital, the 7.5km tunnel will run from the Docklands to Heuston Station via St Stephen's Green. It will pave the way for two DART lines, and link Metro North, commuter, intercity and Luas services. Capacity will be trebled from 33 million passengers per year to 100 million.
Changes announced yesterday include having the tunnel entrance, or portal, located at Inchicore instead of Heuston.
"The extension removes the requirement to increase the number of tracks between Inchicore and Heuston to meet the underground line," a spokesman said.
"This would have required significant property acquisitions and would cause serious disruption to residents, as well as road and rail users.
"No major road artery to or from the city will be affected by the portal areas."
Other changes to the project include the removal of the Kildare Street exit from St Stephen's Green. The station location at Pearse Street has also been changed.
The project will see up to 20 trains travel in each direction per hour, carrying up to 64,000 commuters.
DART services will run every three minutes, and Iarnrod Eireann says it will be the single most important piece of infrastructure in the State, which will ensure a shift form private to public transport.
It also links all rail modes -- DART, Commuter, Intercity, Luas and Metro -- to form an integrated cohesive network.
"DART underground line is the missing link not only in our rail infrastructure, but in our transport infrastructure," CIE chairman Dr John Lynch said.