The Irish Times view on the Dart underground: a project worth another look

The idea of an underground tunnel for the Dart under the city centre has been around for 50 years – now it is again being examined

A crammed Dart carriage pre Covid-19 : photo:Joe St Leger/ Irish Times.

A crammed Dart carriage pre Covid-19 : photo:Joe St Leger/ Irish Times.

 

Plans for a Dart tunnel under Dublin have been knocking around in some form for almost 50 years. Periodically they are picked up and played with by the government of the day, but ultimately Dart underground has always been discarded in favour of less costly options.

Its day appeared to have come in 2005, when the number of zeros at the end of a bill seemed of little importance. Dart “interconnector”, as it was then known, was part of an expansion programme to bring the Dart to Drogheda, Celbridge and Maynooth, with a price tag of more than €4 billion.

The tunnel element was to run in a semi-circle under the city with stations at Spencer Dock, Pearse Station, St Stephen’s Green, Christ Church and Heuston. By the time Irish Rail applied to An Bord Pleanála for the line in 2010 its prospects appeared doubtful. In November 2011 the project was shelved.

The underground, while listed in the Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016-2035, was not in the 10-year National Development Plan published in 2018. Last year, the National Transport Authority (NTA) published plans for the Dart expansion priced at €2.6 billion, but again the underground project was not included and its prospects appeared ever more remote.

However, the NTA has recently begun planning for its development, with consultant engineers engaged to devise route options for the line. Questions might be raised about the need for this line, given the reopening of the Phoenix Park tunnel which takes commuters from the west of the city to Connolly. However, it has limited capacity and for most people Heuston is the last stop before they have to switch to the Luas or bus. This makes it more difficult to persuade people to leave their cars at home.

Digging a tunnel through the city centre would be expensive, but it offers a real prospect of alleviating traffic congestion from the west. It is worth considering as part of the major investment programme now planned for public transport.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.