Shelved underground DART 'major setback'
Shelving the proposed DART Underground project in favour of improving services on some rail lines will not help solve the capital's congestion problem, business leaders have warned.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has confirmed that the planned €3bn project, which has cost €40m so far, is being scrapped in favour of a scaled-down version.
The Government instead intends funding an extension of the DART service to Balbriggan in north Dublin, to be completed by 2022, along with additional measures including increased services on busy lines.
A lower-cost underground project will be designed with a view to seeking planning permission so it can proceed after 2020, Mr Donohoe said.
Dublin Chamber has said it is "disappointed" at the decision not to proceed with the underground rail link, saying that the capital needs a long-term transport solution to encourage further use of public transport.
The DART Underground plan was for a 7.6km subterranean link to connect the Northern and Kildare railway lines, with underground stations at the Docklands, Pearse Street, St Stephen's Green, Christchurch, Heuston Station and Inchicore.
The twin-bore tunnel would treble capacity on the city's rail network from 33 million trips per year to 100 million, while also providing a DART service to Maynooth, Hazelhatch and Drogheda at an additional cost of €1bn. But Mr Donohoe said a review suggested that a reduced design would cater for the city's transport needs. Options include terminating the link at Heuston instead of Inchicore; removing the Inchicore and Docklands stations and only providing three stations at Heuston, St Stephen's Green, and Pearse Street.
Fianna Fáil said the decision was a "major setback", while the Green Party accused the Government of having "no vision".