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Saturday 25 November 2017

Phoenix Park tunnel may reopen to passenger trains

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

PASSENGER trains could be running underneath Dublin as early as 2015 under ambitious plans to open the Phoenix Park tunnel to commuters.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) hopes to connect trains terminating in Heuston station with Connolly station via a three-mile line, some of which runs underneath the city's biggest park.

The move would offer access to the north inner city and city centre to commuters. It would also allow people travelling from Kildare and the south to directly connect with the Dart line.

A modest investment of just €12m is needed to re-open the line, which is currently used to move empty trains between both stations.

NTA chief executive Gerry Murphy said the capacity of Connolly Station would increase from 12 trains per hour in each direction to 20 when resignalling works were completed at Connolly in 2015.

This would allow extra services to be diverted to Connolly, opening up the city centre to people travelling from Kildare, Cork, Limerick and Westport.

However, it is expected that most diverted services would be commuter trains.

"We've submitted a report to the department (of transport) for capital investment," Mr Murphy told the Irish Independent.

The tunnel was built in 1877 and begins at Heuston Station, running underneath the Phoenix Park for 690 metres before re-emerging close to the junction of the Cabra Road and Navan Road.

It joins with the Sligo line near Glasnevin, before continuing to Connolly Station.

The line has never been used for passenger trains. Most traffic through the tunnel is carriages and engines being shunted between Connolly and Heuston for maintenance.

It is occasionally used for special services, including major GAA fixtures, but less so in recent years.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said: "No final decision has been made as of yet but it looks like it can be done relatively cheaply.

"The game-changer for this project, the reason why it couldn't be done before, is because of the resignalling project which means that more trains can now pass through the city centre."

Irish Independent

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