Heuston to have four new platforms


Iarnrod Éireann is planning four new platforms for Heuston Station, Dublin, in a €117 million programme designed to improve train punctuality and increase services.

But thousands of passengers face disruption during St Patrick's bank holiday weekend when the station will be closed for construction work. The station will also close during two off-peak weekends in September 2002 and June 2003.

Announcing plans designed to prepare the State's biggest train station for the next 50 years, the company said it chose to close the station on a bank holiday weekend to minimise disruption. Train-users will be ferried by bus to Heuston from Newbridge and Kildare between 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 16th, and 1 p.m. on Monday, March 18th.

Iarnród Éireann normally carries about 140,000 passengers on Heuston Station routes that weekend, but it said about 119,000 people would travel when the station was open on Friday and Monday evening. The company said it had been criticised before a closure during the May holiday last year, but received no complaints afterwards.

The general manager of the State company's infrastructure division, Mr Joe Leahy, said it wanted to introduce significant additional capacity on the Dublin-Kildare commuter corridor next year. There would also be scope to increase capacity on inter-city routes, he said.

The company wanted to eliminate bottlenecks on the rail approaches to Heuston. Delays were caused by the small number of platforms at the station. Mr Leahy said: "The Heuston-Kildare corridor is extremely congested, and there is no scope to increase services, particularly at peak times."

The four new platforms will be added to the existing five, allowing space for more departures and arrivals at peak times. Platforms will also be extended.

While the extension of Heuston Station is designed to improve the efficiency of a train service which is often unreliable and overcrowded, Iarnród Éireann said it also aimed to make the railway safer.

New signalling will be installed at Heuston Station and Inchicore Works, replacing the existing system which was built in 1936. Due to its age, the current system was prone to failure and required significant resources for maintenance.

The project is being funded in three phases by the Exchequer, the National Development Plan, a special Government safety programme and the EU. Mr Leahy said the project would go ahead regardless of whether there was a change of government after the general election.

The initiative was separate from the ill-fated Mini-CTC signalling project, which went €45 million over budget and prompted an inquiry last year by an Oireachtas sub-committee.

The first phase of the Heuston programme is scheduled for completion by the end of March, when a new platform, No 9, is introduced. Trains on the Arrow service between Kildare and Heuston will use that platform.