Linking Heuston with city centre 'a priority'
SIGNIFICANT works are needed to grow passenger numbers across the rail network, including a link between the country's two busiest stations.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) says the most "fundamental issue" to be addressed up to 2018 is linking Heuston station with Dublin city centre, some 3km away.
And the authority says it wants 7,500 passenger journeys to be made every hour across the network in the Greater Dublin Area, which serves Wicklow, Kildare and parts of Co Meath.
A total of €140m will be spent on heavy rail over the next five years, including a resignalling project in the city centre, which will increase capacity from eight trains per hour in each direction to 20.
There are plans to open the Phoenix Park tunnel linking Heuston and Connolly stations by 2015, and upgrade train control and monitoring systems.
The report also says that the DART Underground line will be protected and progressed over the coming years, and that it is hoped to include it in the Government's next capital investment plan, which runs from 2015.
Investment will also be made in validation machines at most stations across the Dublin commuter and intercity network. These machines require a ticket to be inserted before the gates open, and are seen as vital to protect against passengers who refuse to purchase a fare.
"It is proposed to continue this investment programme to complete the roll-out of ticket-vending machines and entry/exit validation gates," the NTA says.
It also says there is a need to improve stations, including replacing the roof at Pearse Street station. Others require "significant works" to bring them up to a "modern attractive standard".
New passenger information signs will be installed, while longer-term projects, including the electrification and resignalling of Maynooth and the line between Balbriggan and Malahide, will also be progressed, which would allow the DART network to be expanded.