A heavy rail link between Dublin Airport and Connolly Station leaving the Dart line at Clongriffin, first put forward decades ago, could still be built for less than €500million, TDs and Senators have been told.
The proposed link would include two additional tracks between Connolly Station and Clongriffin, a move which would have the extra benefit of removing an existing bottleneck where northern services to Drogheda and Belfast currently share track with Dart services, it was claimed.
The proposal envisages the link leaving the current Northern Line line between Clongriffin and Portmarnock stations and travelling about 7 kilometres westwards across open ground to the M1 motorway, and a further one kilometre to the airport’s main passenger terminals.
Transport consultant Richard Logue who has previously worked on projects including Heathrow rail and Thameslink said the Clongriffin line would not be an alternative to the Government’s proposed MetroLink, which he said was envisaged to serve the Greater Dublin area. But he said the Clongriffin line would provide direct access to the national rail network, allowing services from regional cities to serve the airport.
“What we need to do is we need to look at airports, in my view, in the context of the national connections as well”, he said. But he said a further advantage was that “you would also resolve a significant bottleneck on the existing railway” where he said “Tara Mines and Enterprise Trains were “crawling behind Dart”
Mr Logue who was engaging with the Oireachtas Committee on Transport on the subject of the Government’s ongoing National Rail Review, said the line could be built in two to three years - but he added the same amount of time would have to be factored in for planning. “As you know with MetroLink that has been an issue itself”, he said.
He said “I’m actually surprised that the Dart coastal consultation does not include the addition of more capacity on that route, because in my view that’s already a route that is beyond capacity.”
In relation to cost he said; “ I’m going to give you a ballpark figure here you’re looking at a cost of around about 350 to 500 million, which would still be a lot cheaper than building additional roads, because what people don’t realize is that the construction of railway cost is cheaper than road” .
Fellow UK transport consultant Hassard Stacpoole said he believed Mr Logue was correct. He said he believed the “greatest obstacle” was the planning process. “The key advantage of plugging in the airport is that you connect it to the whole network, so you are serving the whole country”, he said.
Mr Stacpoole who was at the committee as a witness for the The North Tipperary Community Rail Partnership also supported investments to the commuter railway lines into and around Limerick city.
A representatives from West on Track , Colmán Ó Raghallaigh, told the committee the case for the reopening of the western rail corridor from Athenry Co Galway to at least Claremorris, Co Mayo, has now been made many times and the only constraint is the political will to give the project the go ahead. He said the area served by the line was a “seriously neglected region” and a “meagre” €154 million was required “ to reopen a key piece of infrastructure”.