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DART Expansion Programme

DART Expansion is a transformative railway package to modernise and improve the existing rail network, which radiates from Dublin City Centre. It will provide a sustainable, electrified, faster, reliable and user friendly rail system, which increases train frequencies and customer carrying capacity.

It will create a full metropolitan area DART network for Dublin, with all of the lines linked and connected. This will transform the rail system in the Greater Dublin Area, delivering new DART services between the City Centre and Drogheda, Maynooth - M3 Parkway and Hazelhatch - Celbridge.

Customer capacity and train service frequency on these lines will be significantly increased as a result of the programme. This will help to deliver a more efficient transport system, allowing more people to make sustainable travel choices that reduce their carbon footprint and prevent chronic road congestion helping to meet the goals set out in the state’s Climate Action Plan.

Our ambition is to increase train frequency from the current ten minute frequency to a five minute all day frequency and to lengthen all trains to eight carriages.

The cumulative network effect of DART Expansion, subject to Government authorisation and funding, will increase customer capacity from circa 26,000 customers per hour per direction to circa 52,000 passengers per hour per direction by 2027 - 2028, with capacity to increase to a peak of 70,000 passengers per hour per direction thereafter, subject to further fleet procurement.

Passenger Capacity into City Centre bar chart

DART Expansion will transform train services with customers being less constrained by timetables and instead being provided a “turn up and go” mode of transport throughout the day.

DART Expansion core elements

Maynooth - M3 Parkway Line and City Centre Capacity Enhancements

The overall scope for the Maynooth Line and City Centre, to facilitate the necessary increase in capacity, will require:

  • Track, platform and station modifications and improvements at Dublin Connolly Station and Docklands Station to increase through-running and terminating capacity
  • Track and infrastructure modifications at key junction approaching Dublin Connolly and Docklands Station from north and west
  • Bridge reconstructions arising from corridor widening and electrical clearances, as necessary
  • Elimination of level crossings on the Maynooth Line and provision of appropriate road relief infrastructure
  • Signalling and telecommunications infrastructure to support the projected capacity increases
  • Electrification of Maynooth and M3 Parkway lines, and power supply to support the projected capacity increases
  • Provision of a new DART Expansion rolling stock maintenance and stabling depot
  • Integration of DART Expansion with MetroLink at Glasnevin

Kildare Line

The overall scope for the Kildare Line, to facilitate the necessary increase in capacity, will require:

  • Widening of the railway corridor and completing four tracking between Park West Station and Dublin Heuston
  • Improvements to the Phoenix Park Tunnel Line to support the projected capacity increases
  • Bridge reconstructions arising from corridor widening and electrical clearances, as necessary
  • Signalling and telecommunications infrastructure to support the projected capacity increases
  • Electrification and power supply from Hazelhatch to Dublin Heuston to support the projected capacity increases
  • Provision of rolling stock stabling, as necessary

Northern Line

The overall scope for the Northern Line, to facilitate the necessary increase in capacity, will require:

  • Signalling and telecommunications infrastructure to support the projected capacity increases
  • Electrification and power supply from Malahide to Drogheda to support the projected capacity increases
  • Bridge reconstructions arising from corridor widening and electrical clearances, as necessary
  • Upgrade and modification of Drogheda and Fairview maintenance depots
  • Provision of higher capacity turnback at Drogheda and Clongriffin
  • Provision of rolling stock stabling, as necessary

Southside DART Line Improvement Works

The overall scope for the Southeast Line, to facilitate the necessary increase in capacity, will require:

  • Agreeing with the National Transport Authority and Local Authority the level crossing closure plan to support the projected capacity increases
  • Provide an appropriate level of road relief infrastructure in-lieu of increased level crossing closure frequency
  • Provision of a high capacity turnback at Dun Laoghaire or Bray
  • Provision of rolling stock stabling, as necessary
  • Integration of DART Expansion with MetroLink at Tara Street

DART Expansion Map 2018 to 2027

DART Expansion Status

Project Ireland 2040 and the National Development Plan 2017 to 2028 prioritise the sequencing of investment in DART Expansion. The focus is to deliver additional passenger capacity and services as early as possible through maximising the use of existing rail infrastructure with targeted improvement works.

DART Expansion is a key element of the National Transport Authority’s Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016 to 2035 and a corner stone of Project Ireland 2040. As part of an integrated transport system DART Expansion will provide options to citizens and encourage a move away from private cars to public transport. This will assist in achieving targets for the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and enable a transition to a low carbon and climate resilient society.

DART Expansion delivers on each of the three pillars of sustainable development:

  • Economy – Permits good linkage between high density land-use development and public transport corridors, permitting access for people to housing, jobs and services. DART Expansion is estimated to generate €4.8 billion of user benefits from reductions in journey time, grater transport efficiency and increase economic development
  • Society – DART Expansion is consistent with government strategy and regional planning objectives. It will improve the quality of life for people and allows long term forecast lifestyle choices by providing a long term integrated public transport system. Efficient public transport will also positively contribute to the national objective of transitioning away from fossil fuels
  • Environment – Public transport will assist in change of transport mode, especially for work and educational commuters. Higher use of public transport, especially during AM & PM peak hours will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, alleviate road congestion and free up city centre space currently used for all-day car parking

Iarnród Éireann is now progressing with the preliminary design for DART Expansion. An Environmental Impact Assessment will be conducted and environmental information will be integrated into the design process.

The culmination of the preliminary design and the environmental impact assessment studies will be the submission of a Railway Order Application to An Bord Pleanála for the railway works along each line. A Railway Order Application is a planning application for railway development works and must be accompanied by plans and particulars for the works and an Environmental Impact Assessment Report.

During the preliminary design and the Environmental Impact Assessment Report preparation Iarnród Éireann will conduct consultations with Statutory Bodies, interest groups and the general public to gather comments and suggestions for consideration in development of an optimised design. Base on the current programme, Iarnród Éireann estimate that the Railway Order Applications will be submitted in 2020 - 2021.

Once a Railway Order Application is made to An Bord Pleanála, the public will also have further opportunity to make submissions. The submission of Railway Order Applications will be advertised in the press and all information will be available for review.

DART Expansion Benefits

The objective of DART Expansion is to offer customers a real quality alternative to private car transport, as part of wider plans to build sustainable transport across a range of modes. DART Expansion will offer increased train capacity and increased train frequencies. DART Expansion will offer a rail systems which can operate at a frequency that meets projected customer demands. This will allow passengers to access the rail network at suitable locations along the network and be transported into the heart of the city centre for all trip purposes.

Rail transport, which is segregated from road conflicts, offers journey time reliability unrivalled by road transport. Passenger transport by rail offers many societal benefits, including:

  • Provides the core spine of an integrated and sustainable pubic transport network
  • High capacity customer transport
  • Reliability on time of departure and time of arrival (especially in the morning and evening peaks)
  • Improved safety performance compared to road transport
  • No conflict with road traffic
  • Alleviates road congestions
  • Benefits to passengers in terms of time-use during transport
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduces requirement for city centre parking
  • Facilitates more efficient and sustainable land-use planning and development
  • Provides long term infrastructure to future generations

If you would like more information on the project, please email -  dartexpansion@irishrail.ie

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