Kildare Commuters Lose Out As DART Underground Axed

dart underground james lawlessTuesday 22nd September 2015 is a sad day for Kildare commuters, and indeed commuters from across the Greater Dublin Area. Minister Paschal Donohue has axed the plans for the DART Underground project which would see the Kildare commuter line directly connected to the city centre via an underground line from Heuston to Pearse. Despite evidence based research indicating that it would be of major benefit to the economy in the Greater Dublin Area, the Government have allowed the project to lapse which had already passed design and planning stages (at a cost of €40m).

It marks a depressing absence of vision to hear the Government announce that the DART Underground project will not proceed as currently designed. The project offers enormous benefits for commuters and businesses across the entire Greater Dublin Area. The decision made by Fine Gael and Labour means that opportunity will now be lost.

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DART Underground Must Go Ahead

dart underground james lawlessThe 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.
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Fianna Fáil’s Record on Transport Policy

On the other day I participated in a debate on transport policy and Fianna Fáil’s record over the past few years. While I’m always one for objective analysis, credit where credit’s due and likewise when the opposite is the case, I do think the government has made strides in this area that are not always acknowledged. Similarly there are a few areas where I would like to see more being done. I detail below the arguments I made.

To start with I don’t think the party/govt have done all that badly in the rail arena over the past couple of years, in the time I’ve been an activist on either front anyhow.

When I got involved in rail campaigns I was aware of Platform11’s then proposal to ‘Extend the Dart’ by creating three new Dart lines linked by underground tunnel. I was a fan of the proposal and exchanged correspondence with the offices of both the Taoiseach and the then Minister for Transport. I also championed the issue at the Killarney Ard Fheis a few years back. Sure enough Transport 21 was announced and the Interconnector was a key component. So good start.

Other developments in my own area include the Kildare Route project which is certainly in progress, and due for completion on target. The Spencer Dock station opened in 2007 for commuters on the Western/Maynooth line which relieved the slot contention in Connolly and allowed commuters more choice travelling into the IFSC. Recently moves have been made to reopen Broadstone station for trains on the Southern/Waterford line which will improve contention at Connolly and again represents a step in the right direction.

Metro North and West are badly needed and whilst there may be debate about the routes, Metro West in particular will open up a huge corridor all along the west city which is not particularly well served at the moment, and also aid connectivity meaning that a commuter from say my part of the world (Kildare line) could hop an Arrow to Clondalkin and in one change board Metro West for the airport. With the Interconnector make a similar change at Stephen’s green or Pearse and head for the Southside DART.

The LUAS has been a success and is hugely popular. More lines are planned and the railway order went out for the citywest line just before Christmas. The Lucan and other additional lines can only be good news for the residents in those areas.
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