The DART Underground is the only project that offers the opportunity to provide an underground link between the existing DART line in Dublin and the Western rail line which currently terminates at Heuston station, nearly 3km away from the city centre. The construction of an underground rail link into the city centre will have enormous benefits for commuters in Kildare and beyond. The DART Underground will allow commuters to directly access the city centre without having to change service at Heuston station. It will reduce commuting times, vastly increase rail capacity and will encourage people to use public transport instead of driving into the city.
The DART Underground will also have enormous benefits for businesses. It will allow shoppers to have direct access to the city centre and will encourage greater footfall in areas such as Grafton Street, O’Connell Street and Henry Street. The project would undoubtedly lead to a much needed revitalisation of the city centre. I welcome the Government plan to re-open the Phoenix Park tunnel, but this cannot be viewed as a replacement for DART Underground. The upgrade of the tunnel will only allow people to access the lower end of the docklands as it completely bypasses the city centre. The current Government plan will also result in a reduction of commuter train services terminating in Heuston station in order to facilitate the project, which further highlights the need for DART Underground to get the go ahead.
The cost of capital is at history lows. We will never find a cheaper time to borrow money to fund long term capital projects which will benefit generations of Irish people. The Phoenix Park rail tunnel was built 137 years ago and has long since paid for itself. “The time has come for the Government to put in place a long term plan to advance public transport in Dublin. Failure to do so now will put at stake the economy of Greater Dublin Area, which accounts for close to have of Ireland’s economic activity. The business case for the rail project – which was originally planned and begun by Fianna Fáil in government – is indisputable, with the potential to treble commuter rail capacity in the Greater Dublin Area in a short period of time.
I will continue to advocate the importance of this project within Fianna Fáil. This revolutionary public transport plan is of national importance and should not be allowed to be mothballed.