Phase one of Navan rail project begins


WORK ON phase one of the Navan railway project - the building of a €160 million 7.5km line from Clonsilla station in Dublin to Pace, north of Dunboyne, Co Meath, - was officially launched yesterday.

Football stars Ciarán Whelan of Dublin and Nigel Crawford of Meath joined Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey to mark the awarding of the contract for the twin-track line to construction company SIAC. SIAC is also involved in building the M3 toll motorway in Co Meath.

The company is expected to begin work on the railway in earnest next month and the route is scheduled to open to passengers in 2010.

Iarnrod Eireann has already begun enabling works on the line following the route of the old Navan branch, which closed in April 1963 after 100 years in operation. Three new stations are to be provided at Pace, Dunboyne and Hansfield, and services will run through to the city centre Docklands station.

Each of the new stations will be equipped with lifts and footbridges and will be accessible for those with mobility and sensory impairments. A new park-and-ride facility at Pace close to the M3 will cater for 1,200 cars, while a second at Dunboyne will cater for 300 cars. Dunboyne has not been served by rail since 1947.

Initially the service is to run at 30-minute intervals at peak periods, but as demand increases this is expected to expand to 15-minute intervals at peak times. Off-peak services are to be hourly.

The trains are to be diesel-powered commuter railcars.

The €160 million price for the 7.5km of railway includes the cost of land which CIÉ sold off in the 1960s and has now to buy back.

Mr Dempsey said he was "very pleased to be here to mark the commencement of work on phase one of the Navan rail line".

He said the route was a key element of Transport 21 and would provide commuters from Meath and Louth with an alternative to bringing cars into the city.

Iarnrod Eireann and CIÉ chairman Dr John Lynch said the work, in conjunction with the four-track Kildare route project, the reintroduction of commuter services in Cork, the reopening of sections of the Western Rail Corridor and the proposed Dart underground, "means we are on the brink of the most significant expansion of our rail network in 100 years".

Phase one of the reopening of the Navan line was initially scheduled for completion in 2009. The reopening of the entire line to Navan is scheduled for 2015.