Friday 6 May 2011

Transport review may look at old plan for rail spur from Dart to airport

A REVIEW of transport investment priorities may result in 20-year plans to serve Dublin airport with a rail spur from the Dart line being revived as an alternative to the Metro North project.

A spokesman for Iarnród Éireann confirmed yesterday that it had been requested by the Department of Transport to provide further details on the proposed rail spur which would branch off the Malahide Dart line at Clongriffin.

In the Dáil on April 20th, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said a Dart extension to the airport and Swords was one of the options being “rated according to their contribution to economic and transport objectives, including employment potential”.

The other projects included in the current review are Metro North, which would run from St Stephen’s Green to Swords; Dart Underground, a tunnel linking Heuston with the Docklands; and a city centre link between the two existing Luas lines.

“Notwithstanding funding difficulties, I will seek to ensure that at least one of these projects will proceed. I will examine all realistic options for delivery, including on an incremental, phased basis if possible, with the involvement of private funding, the Minister said.

He told Dessie Ellis TD (SF) that the reason Metro North and Dart Underground were to be public-private partnership (PPP) projects was that “even during the boom no one thought it would be possible for the exchequer to spend the billions of euro needed to pay for them”.

No estimate for the 16km Metro North has been officially released, but it is likely to cost €3 billion, mainly because 10km of the line would be underground.

The estimate for Dart Underground has been put at €2 billion, although it could cost more.

“The two projects, if they are to proceed, can only do so as PPPs. If we did not have the funds for them during the boom out of taxpayers’ money, we definitely do not have the money now,” Mr Varadkar said.

However, he added that it would be possible for the city centre Luas link or a Dart extension to Dublin airport to go ahead with exchequer funds “because they are much less expensive than the other two projects”. Each has a price tag of about €400 million.

The proposed Luas link, known as BXD, would run from the current terminus at St Stephen’s Green through the city centre, via College Green, Westmoreland Street and O’Connell Street, and onwards to Broombridge, via the disused midland railway line.

The Dart spur would branch off the Malahide Dart line at Clongriffin and run to Dublin airport and onwards to Swords. The Minister accepted that plugging it into an already busy rail section could cause congestion problems.

Irish Times

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