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New plans to extend DART to Drogheda

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THE Government is to examine Irish Rail plans to extend the current DART line as far as Drogheda, the Herald can reveal.

The DART currently ends in Malahide but a plan for the coming decades would see it expand to Co Louth.

It is understood that the Government has asked Irish Rail to draw up a business plan for the proposal.

The 'business case' looks at the demand for the extension, the cost of the extension and the infrastructure needed to complete the proposed expansion.

"The Government would normally ask for a business case when they want to build towards future public transport systems, and in this case the Government might feel that the Drogheda extension would be beneficial," a source explained.

Speaking at a municipal council meeting in Swords last week, Irish Rail's passenger and services manager John Reville stated that despite the €2bn 'DART Underground' project being the company's main focus, an off-shoot to that project was being reviewed under the range of options to extend the service.

In the 2030 Rail Network Strategy Review published in 2011, Irish Rail cited Drogheda as a major network hub, with the Co Louth town accounting for more than 25pc of Intercity passengers from 2006-2011.

The extension of the line from Malahide to Drogheda would potentially be lucrative, as the 2030 review also found that the Drogheda journey on the Dublin-Belfast route makes approximately €1,577 per km off passenger tickets alone.

However, this number drops significantly when the Drogheda stop is excluded, costing Iarnrod Eireann a large amount to run an unnecessary amount of rail services a further 120 km to Belfast.

STRATEGY

Plans to include Drogheda in a strategy for the Greater Dublin Area failed in 2011 when a Draft Transport Strategy Document determined that no change was required to the Drogheda line.

This is despite the fact that the report recognised the importance of the area as a major rail hub for counties Louth, Meath and Dublin.

A figure and timeline for the Drogheda extension has not yet been made official by Irish Rail.

hnews@herald.ie

Herald