CONSTRUCTION of a new DART line to Dublin Airport will cost just €200m, less than one-tenth the cost of Metro North, the Irish Independent has learned.
Iarnrod Eireann will tell Transport Minister Leo Varadkar in the coming weeks that the cost of building the 6.5km DART spur would be significantly lower than expected because of falling land prices and lower construction costs.
The new line could be operational within four years.
The lower cost and rapid delivery of a high-speed rail link from the airport to the city means the project is more likely to be approved by the cash-strapped government.
A review of the capital spending programme is under way and will be completed in September, after which a decision will be made on which of the four projects -- Metro North, DART underground, DART airport and link-up of the two Luas lines -- will go ahead.
Last May the Irish Independent revealed that the Government had ordered Iarnrod Eireann to update a 1991 plan to build a spur from Clongriffin Station to the airport.
The move came amid concerns that the State could not afford a €2.5bn Metro North project from the city centre to Swords via the airport, and that an extension of the DART network could be the cheaper option.
A new business case for the project will be submitted to the Department of Transport and National Transport Authority by the end of the month setting out construction costs, expected number of passengers, timeline for delivery and frequency of services to be provided.
A site for a station has been identified at Dublin Airport, within a five-minute walk of both terminals.
"Iarnrod Eireann expects to submit a business case proposal to the Department of Transport and National Transport Authority for the DART airport link at the end of this month," an Iarnrod Eireann spokesman said.
"Initial indications are that the cost of the 6.5km rail link from the airport to Clongriffin, which would provide direct DART services between the airport and the city centre, will come in significantly lower than previously estimated, in the region of €200m in total."
This is €100m less than previously thought. Up to 2,000 jobs will be created if the project is approved.
The airport link would integrate with the DART and commuter network, and would allow airport passengers to change for Belfast services at Clongriffin, to continue into the city centre or to board northbound services to Howth and Malahide.
Trains would operate from the airport to Dublin Connolly and Pearse stations every 15 minutes, with a journey time of 25 minutes into the city. There would be no impact on existing services because Iarnrod Eireann is upgrading the signalling system, allowing 20 trains to use the line every hour compared with 12 at present.
Passenger numbers are expected at 10,000 a day and a park-and-ride site could be built nearby to allow commuters from Swords to use the service.