Phoenix Park's 139-year-old tunnel to reopen for rail commuters
The long-awaited re-opening of the Phoenix Park tunnel for passenger trains is due to be completed by Christmas, allowing trains from Kildare to reach Dublin city in around an hour.
An estimated 7,500 commuters a day living in the congested commuter belt from southwest Dublin to Co Kildare will be able to avail of 15 new weekday trains to and from the city centre a day.
The new service will travel directly from Newbridge and Hazelhatch Stations in Co Kildare to the IFSC, south city centre and Grand Canal Dock areas in about an hour or less, depending on the train.
The new line, which uses the 139-year-old Phoenix Park tunnel, will also stop at Drumcondra, Connolly, Tara and Pearse Stations.
The service, using existing inter-city rail trains, will travel under the Phoenix Park for 692 metres via the tunnel that runs from Heuston Station to the junction of the Cavan and Navan roads.
The tunnel was closed to regular train traffic over a decade ago but has been in continual use for freight trains.
Seven new morning rush-hour services will run from Newbridge and Hazelhatch to Grand Canal Dock with eight return rush-hour services in the evening.
There will also be connections at Newbridge and Hazelhatch for commuters living as far away as Carlow town, Portlaoise, Kildare town and Athlone.
Irish Rail is now seeking input from the public on the draft timetable and commuters have until September 19 to comment.
Irish Rail chief executive David Franks said the new service would take thousands of commuters off the roads with new direct connections to a number of stations.
“However, firstly, and most importantly, we want customers to examine the initial schedules proposed, to give us their feedback, so we can ensure we meet their expectations as much as possible,” he said.
National Transport Authority chief executive Anne Graham said the project was aimed at attracting both new commuters and leisure travellers to the rail network.
It’s expected that services will increase to weekend and evening services once the initial weekday service is rolled out.
The draft timetable is available online at www.irishrail.ie where customers can also make submissions.