IRELAND’s minister for transport, Mr Eamon Ryan, has secured agreement from the cabinet for the Dart+ South West rail project to enter the planning stage, with the aim of extending the Dublin Area Rapid Transit (Dart) network to Hazelhatch & Celbridge station in County Kildare.

The Department of Transport says the project will provide a fast, high-frequency and electrified commuter rail service to communities along the route at Islandbridge, Park West and Cherry Orchard, Clondalkin and Adamstown.

Following government approval, a Railway Order covering 20km of new electrified rail infrastructure will be submitted to An Bord Pleanála (Ireland’s planning board) by the end of March. Subject to planning permission and final funding arrangements, construction could begin in 2025, with delivery of the infrastructure completed by the end of this decade.

Stations along the route are currently served by less frequent Irish Rail (IÉ) diesel inter-city and stopping trains between Dublin Heuston, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford and Portlaoise. Completion of electrification as part of the Dart network will more than double the Dublin - Hazelhatch &- Celbridge service to 11 trains per direction per hour at peak times. It will also increase the number of passengers who can use the route to travel to and from Dublin city centre from the current level of around 5000 each way per hour to 20,000 in the future.

A schematic map of the Dart+ Project Programme, including the South West line between Dublin and Hazelhatch. Picture credit: Dart+Programme

A new station will be built at Islandbridge, to be named Heuston West, and the line between Park West and the Heuston station in Dublin will be widened to four tracks. In addition, electrification of the Phoenix Park Tunnel as part of the project will enable Dart trains from Hazelhatch & Celbridge line to also operate to the city’s other principal station, Dublin Connolly, and to stations on the wider north-south Dart network.

“The Dart+ South West project is a key deliverable in the Greater Dublin Area Transport Strategy and will provide a major upgrade to rail services for passengers living along the rail corridor,” says the CEO of the National Transport Authority (NTA), Ms Anne Graham. “This project will be particularly beneficial to commuters, as many of the Dart trains will operate to and from Dublin city centre through the Phoenix Park Tunnel to Connolly and Grand Canal Dock stations.”

The South West line is part of the multi-billion euro Dart+ Programme to treble the electrified Dublin commuter network from the current 53km to 150km. The programme received approval for its preliminary business case in December 2021 and Ryan secured agreement from the cabinet for Irish Rail to order 90 BEMUs from Alston as part of the expansion project in December 2022. Other parts of the Dart+ Programme will see Dart services extended north along the Dublin - Belfast line to Drogheda, and to Maynooth and an M3 Parkway station west of Dublin.

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