A PLAN to open a tunnel portal at the Iarnród Éireann works in Inchicore, south Dublin, as part of the proposed underground Dart extension, was described as shocking by local residents at an information evening yesterday.
Dart Underground, estimated to cost €2 billion, is to run from Inchicore via Heuston rail station, the south inner city and Pearse Street to the Docklands. Underground stations are planned for Heuston, Christchurch, St Stephen’s Green and Pearse Station.
There will also be a station at Docklands and, Iarnród Éireann says, a station will be built at Inchicore, although this will be applied for separately and not as part of the overall railway order.
The underground system was originally to have started at Heuston station. However, the extension to Inchicore will dramatically reduce the impact of the tunnel’s development on existing rail services during the construction phase.
Dart Underground is predicted to treble existing capacity in the Dart and suburban network from a current 33 million passenger journeys a year to more than 100 million passengers.
A railway order for the public private partnership will be applied for later this year, Iarnród Éireann has said. Work should begin on the project in 2011 and be completed by 2015. It is expected to create up to 7,000 direct jobs during construction.
Tunnel burrowing machines working at 19m (62ft) below the surface, will carve out the 7.5km route, but cut and cover work will be carried out at the Docklands and at Inchicore.
The Iarnród Éireann works at Inchicore is close to residential areas. They are likely to be affected significantly by the development. Four houses in particular, at George’s Villas, will be close to the cut and cover works and at least one of those gardens will be the subject of a compulsory purchase order. A garden in Sarsfield Road will also be acquired to facilitate an air vent for the tunnel.
Joanne Holmewood, chairwoman of the CIÉ Residents Association, said residents were shocked by the proposals. “To open a portal in the middle of a residential area is shocking,” she said.
They were concerned at the effect of construction on their homes and at the loss of football grounds, a social club and a recreational area as part of the plan. Ms Holmewood also said residents were concerned that the Inchicore station might never be delivered because of access problems.
An Iarnród Éireann spokesman acknowledged that there would be disruption for local residents during construction. He said some residents may be given the option of vacating their homes during construction and being provided with temporary accommodation or Iarnród Éireann may offer to buy them out. “It is a matter for negotiation.”
He said construction traffic would reach the site from the west and not through the narrow streets of the railway buildings, and much of the material would be removed from the site by rail. A property protection scheme would also be put in place for houses under which the tunnel will pass.