Dart extension – we’ve been here before
Sir, – The plans published by the National Transport Authority (NTA) for the expansion of the Dart were not “first announced 15 years ago” (“Dart’s ¤2.6 billion extension plan beyond Dublin unveiled after 15 years”, News, August 27th) but are largely unchanged since the publication of the Dublin Rail Rapid Transit Study in 1975 by CIÉ. I recall seeing a public display of this exciting new system at that time (which then included a Dart line to the newly expanded town of Tallaght). The existing Dart is all that emerged, even though the acronym refers to Dublin Area Rapid Transit.
While any investment in Dublin’s commuter rail network is welcome, it should be noted that the current plans will not resolve the main impediment to achieving the full potential frequency, speed and capacity of the system announced 45 years ago.
You refer to the Dart “Interconnector”, which has formed part of all Dart proposals since 1975, but go on to repeat a long-standing misunderstanding that this underground section “links Heuston Station to the (existing) Dart line”. The interconnector actually connects the proposed Hazelhatch and Kildare Dart line (before it reaches Heuston) to the existing northern Dart line by tunnel, thus allowing the proposed Dart to Maynooth and Dunboyne uninterrupted direct access to the southern Dart line.
As all current Maynooth rail-line users and Dart users know all too well, the new electrifications and level-crossing closures announced by the NTA will do nothing to resolve the long-standing bottleneck represented by Connolly station and the one track in each direction shared by all Dart and commuter trains crossing the Liffey on the unloved loop-line bridge. The tragedy is that Irish Rail had, as your article indicates, successfully brought the plans for a Dart underground, as well as much of the “new” proposals, through to an approved railway order in 2011, at considerable cost to the exchequer, only for it to be cancelled by the then-government.
If we are ever to achieve a high-capacity and sustainable transport system in our capital city we need to emerge from this groundhog day of wasted expenditure and time and repeated “launches” and join other European cities in the 21st century by investing now in a fully integrated transit system. – Yours, etc,