DART Expansion Programme
The DART Expansion Programme is a series of projects which would develop and expand the DART network in the Greater Dublin Area, building on one of Ireland’s great public transport success stories, the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit).
The programme includes:
- The DART Underground line, a high-capacity second DART line running underground through the heart of Dublin city
- Electrification of the northern commuter line from the existing end of the DART network in Malahide on to Drogheda
- Electrification of the line from Heuston to Hazelhatch and completion of the four-tracking of this line between Inchicore and Park West
- Electrification of the line from Connolly to Maynooth, together with removal of level crossings and resignalling
- Expansion of fleet and depot facilities.
This will result in a high-capacity integrated rail network across the Greater Dublin area which will meet the transport needs of our communities and our economy, and prevent chronic congestion which would damage both.
Status of DART Expansion Programme
In September 2015, the revised Business Case for the DART Expansion Programme was published, and the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Paschal Donohoe TD announced the National Transport Authority’s recommendations based on the outcome of the Business Case, which the Minister endorsed.
The NTA stated:
The DART Expansion Programme remains a key project in the delivery of an integrated rail transport network for the Dublin region. The overall DART Expansion Programme has been assessed as a positive project from an economic perspective. While the DART Underground Project has received planning approval from An Bord Pleanála, the business case for that project, prepared by Iarnród Éireann, indicates that its development alone under the current railway order is not economically justified.
Given the very significant cost of the DART Expansion Programme, and recognising that a lower cost alternative for the tunnel element is possible, it is intended that the Compulsory Purchase Order for the DART Underground Project is not activated and that a new Railway Order is sought for a lower cost revised scheme.
The Authority has recommended the following:
- That the compulsory acquisition powers of the approved railway order for the DART Underground Project are not activated – i.e. the “notices to treat” are not issued;
- That the DART Underground Project is redesigned to provide a lower cost technical solution for the project, whilst retaining the required rail connectivity;
- That a new railway order is sought for the revised, lower cost DART Underground Project, together with any remaining elements of the overall DART Expansion Programme which have not already been approved under separate approval processes;
- That the design and planning work of the revised DART Underground Project is advanced in order to be available for commencement of construction after 2020; and
- That the non-tunnelled elements of the DART Expansion Programme be progressed in line with available funding. The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport has indicated that the forthcoming Capital Investment Plan will make provision for advancing this expansion programme.
The NTA has published a range of options for the redesign of the DART Underground line, which will be progressed for redesign and planning.
Furthermore, the Minister announced that non-tunnel elements of the overall DART Expansion Programme including in particular electrification of the Northern line between Malahide and Balbriggan, and works to increase the frequency of existing services.