Dart Underground needed to enable 17,000 new homes

New west Dublin suburb cannot be developed without a rail tunnel, says council

 Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform: South Dublin County Council has written to him and Minister for Transport Shane Ross asking them to “reinstate” the Dart Underground plan. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform: South Dublin County Council has written to him and Minister for Transport Shane Ross asking them to “reinstate” the Dart Underground plan. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

 

The provision of up to 17,000 homes in Dublin is at risk if the Dart Underground project is not given the go ahead by Government, South Dublin county councillors have warned.

The council has written to Minister for Transport Shane Ross and Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe asking them to “reinstate” the Dart Underground plan under the mid-term review of the Government’s Capital Programme in 2017.

Last September the Government said development of the rail line, which will involve construction of a €3 billion tunnel, would be shelved until after 2020.

The project was of “strategic importance” in addressing traffic congestion in west Dublin and “facilitating sustainable future housing supply at Adamstown and Clonburris SDZs” the council’s letter, sent in recent days, said.

A Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) was established for Adamstown in 2003 to allow the fast-track development of a new suburb for the rapidly growing population of west Dublin.

A draft SDZ for the neighbouring area of Clonburris is being drawn up by the council and is expected to be published in the autumn.

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The adjoining new suburbs, which flank the Kildare rail line to the south of Lucan, are seen as key sites with the potential to address the housing crisis, but cannot be fully developed without the Dart line, said Fine Gael councillor William Lavelle.

“Adamstown can accommodate almost 8,000 more homes and Clonburris is expected to have about 9,000, but west Dublin is already choked with traffic and if Dart Underground continues to be put on the long finger the scope to provide housing will be severely limited.”

The Dart Underground line was designed to run from Clontarf to Inchicore, travelling under the city to link Spencer Dock, Pearse station, St Stephen’s Green, Christchurch and Heuston station.

It was not planned to run into the South Dublin County Council area, but the construction of the tunnel would have allowed a significant upgrade of the Kildare line (which runs to Heuston) to Dart standard.

“Building the tunnel would be a game changer for the Kildare line allowing high frequency rail services from west Dublin every 10 minutes, or even more frequently, as opposed to three trains an hour,” Mr Lavelle said.

Trains could also continue through the tunnel into the city centre instead of terminating at Heuston station.

The proposed reopening of the Phoenix Park tunnel could not provide the same service he said. “The Phoenix Park tunnel wouldn’t have the same carrying capacity and would be much slower to the city centre, taking people on a big loop around the city.”

Unless a commitment is given to developing Dart Underground it was difficult to see how councillors could approve the creation of the SDZ for Clonburris later this year, Mr Lavelle said.

“We cannot deal with the housing crisis unless we deal with this looming transport crisis. Clonburris will be a non-runner without Dart Underground. The surrounding road network cannot take any more traffic, and I would expect councillors will vote against the SDZ if Dart Underground is not reinstated.”

The National Transport Authority recently told Dublin City Council it would review the Dart Underground project over the next 15 to 18 months.