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DART Underground

General DART Underground Information

Iarnród Éireann has developed plans for a new underground DART line through the heart of Dublin city centre.

The design and planning of the project was funded by the Irish Government and was also being part-funded by the Ten-T Executive Agency of the European Commission.

The DART Underground rail line, which would run from Docklands to Inchicore, would complete the trebling of the Greater Dublin area's rail service capacity from 33 million passenger journeys annually now to 100 million passenger journeys upon completion.

DART Underground will be the single most important piece of infrastructure in the state, to promote a modal shift from private cars to public transport, and free future generations from the gridlock which cripples the Greater Dublin area.  It also links all rail modes - DART, Commuter, Intercity and Luas to form an integrated cohesive transport network.

The DART Underground tunnels will be approximately 7.6 Km in length and will connect the Northern and Kildare rail lines, with underground stations strategically located at Spencer Dock, Pearse, St. Stephen’s Green, Christchurch and Heuston Station, as well as a new surface DART station at Inchicore.

The construction of DART Underground will take approximately six-seven years.

The new line will dramactically change Iarnród Éireann's DART and Commuter network, Northern line DART services from Balbrigan and Howth will branch off the existing DART line after Clontarf Road, going undergound to new stations and opening up a web of new rail connections:

  • Spencer Dock Station connects with the expanded Luas Red Line
  • Pearse Station will become a central transport hub as both DART line interchange there, opening up a variety of new rail connections and options.  Pearse will also line with outer Commuter services.
  • St. Stephen's Green will have convenient access to the Luas Green line.
  • Heuston Station links to Intercity services from the South and the West, outer Commuter trains and the Luas Red Line.
  • Inchicore will ultimately link with the Kildare line.

DART Underground will dramactically increase frequency and capacity for commuters on the Northern, Maynooth and Kildare lines - the three fastest growing population corridors in the country - and relieve the current congestion at Connolly Station.

DART Underground provides the missing link that will deliver a fully intregrated rail network for the Greater Dublin Area, linking all modes and ensuring that suburb to city centre journey's can be made by a frequent, high capacity public transport network.

DART Underground is not a stand-alone project but is the vital link in a wider package of measures (DART Expansion), including:

  • electrification of the lines to extend the DART to Balbriggan, Maynooth and Hazelhatch
  • signalling and track capacity enhancements to allow more trains to run more frequently
  • significant expansion of the fleet and train depot facilities.

All of these works will pave the way for the completed DART Underground to fill in the crucial final link that will release the full potential of this expanded and improved rail network into and out of Dublin.

In November 2011 a Government decision was made to defer the DART Underground as national financial conditions meant that the project construction could not proceed during the period covered by the Government's "Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2012-2016: Medium Term Exchequer Framework".  In the current NTA Integrated Implementation Plan 2013-2018 (published April 2014) it is proposed to protect DART Underground in line with the Government's decision on the next capital plan, due in 2016.

The Docklands to Inchicore DART Underground will deliver:

  • A second high capacity DART line through the heart of the city centre, via a 7.6 kilometre underground line
  • Dramatically increased frequency and capacity for services on the Northern, Maynooth and Kildare lines - the three fastest growing population corridors in the country – and relieving the current congestion at Connolly Station
  • Significantly contribute towards a fully integrated rail network for the Greater Dublin area, linking all modes - DART, Commuter, Intercity, LUAS - and ensuring that suburb to suburb as well as suburb to city centre journeys can be made by a frequent, high capacity public transport network
  • Re-organised network configuration with two high capacity DART lines proposed as Balbriggan/Howth to Hazelhatch; and Maynooth/Dunboyne(M3) to Bray/Greystones, with DART extensions to some routes likely to be delivered in advance of the DART Underground
  • A trebling of the capacity for passenger journeys by DART and Commuter rail annually - up from 33 million today to 100 million
  • A critical piece of urban, regional and national infrastructure
  • Up to 7,000 jobs during each year of the construction phase, with many thousands more jobs indirectly as a result of the significantly improved access that the project will deliver to retail, commercial, leisure and tourist destinations in Dublin.

Project Progress

A Railway Order is the equivalent of a planning permission for new rail schemes and it authorises CIÉ to construct, maintain and operate the DART Underground.

The DART Underground  Railway Order Application was lodged with An Bord Pleanála on  30th June, 2010, A public Oral Hearing in relation to the Railway Order Application was held from 22nd November 2010 to 8th April 2011.

A Railway Order for the DART Underground was made by An Bord Pleanála on 15th December 2011.  The full decision is available from An Bord Pleanála's website. A judicial review of An Bord Pleanála's decision was concluded by the High Court on 25th March 2014, at which time the Railway Order became effective.