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Preferred option unveiled for DART extension northwards from Malahide to Drogheda

Irish Rail unveils preferred route for extension of DART from Malahide northwards all the way to drogheda

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Iarnród Éireann has unveiled details of the emerging preferred option for DART+ Coastal North, whixh will extend the DART from Malahide to Drogheda with an increased and improved electrified network, and allow more trains to run, and more commuters switch to public transport, between Drogheda and Dublin City Centre, including Howth to Howth Junction.

Iarnród Éireann Chairman Frank Allen and CEO Jim Made were joined today by Mayor of Drogheda Cllr James Byrne, Mayor of Fingal Cllr Seána Ó Rodaigh and Chair of Meath County Council Cllr Sean Drew at Drogheda MacBride Station to formally launch public consultation for DART+ Coastal North.

Funded by the National Transport Authority under Project Ireland 2040, this rail improvement project will offer an increase in peak passenger capacity and train frequency between Dublin City Centre and Drogheda MacBride Station - inclusive of the Howth Branch – facilitating more frequent and reliable transport to the surrounding communities.

It will deliver a more than doubling of service and passenger capacity from Drogheda to the city centre by increasing the number of trains from 11 to 24 and capacity for commuters from 12500 – 26600 per 3 hour peak period.

It will also build the potential for up to twice the number of DARTs between Howth and Howth Junction, subject to operational decisions on the use of a shuttle train service.

Key elements of the project works include the expansion of electrification from Malahide to Drogheda, including necessary bridge modifications and track alterations

The project also includes signalling and telecoms modifications to support the increase in train frequency amd the reconfiguration of Howth Junction & Donaghmede Station to enable the use of a shuttle service on the Howth Branch. (Final operational decisions will be made subject to demand requirements and assessment.)

It will also facilitate the future increase in frequency of trains through the construction of train stabling and other necessary rail infrastructure in the vicinity of Drogheda MacBride, Malahide, Clongriffin and Howth Junction & Donaghmede stations

There will aos be the modification of existing depots at Drogheda and Fairview to support the new DART+ fleet

According to Irish Rail, as well as enhancing access to sustainable public transport for new and existing communities, DART+ Coastal North will alleviate road congestion and build a more connected, efficient, and safe rail network, supporting our transition to a low carbon and climate resilient society, less reliant on private cars.

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The announcement comes following the signing of a contract, in December last year, between Iarnród Éireann and Alstom for the new DART+ Fleet of up to 750 rail carriages over the coming decade, making this largest and most sustainable fleet order in Irish transport history.

An initial order has been placed for 95 electric and battery-electric powered rail cars which are set for delivery from mid-2024, entering service in 2025. The battery electric hybrid vehicles will operate on the Drogheda to Dublin City Centre route, seeing a capacity lift for commuters on the Northern line in advance of electrification of the line itself.

The Public Consultation, which commenced last Thursday for the DART+ Coastal North project, presents the ‘Emerging Preferred Option’ for the project design and is the first of two non-statutory public consultations seeking the public’s feedback.

The knowledge and insight of customers, residents, and businesses adjacent to the route, as well as other stakeholders, will inform the design and help Iarnród Éireann to shape the project plans, ensuring that it will be beneficial for customers and the communities it will serve.

All are encouraged to review the full details at www.dartplus.ie, which also features an interactive virtual room. Details of a dedicated phone line, email address and online feedback form are all available at www.dartplus.ie. A series of webinars for those who would like to learn more about the project will commence over the coming days.

Upon completion of this consultation, all submissions will considered by the project design team, and these will be used to inform the subsequent design development and the Preferred Option. A second phase of public consultation will take place when a preferred option for the project has been identified.

Much of the project works will follow the existing railway corridor, including the overhead electrification of the existing line between Malahide and Drogheda. Some works such as the provision of new electrical substations and bridge modification may be required outside of the existing boundary.

The scale of service uplift will vary across the extend of the route from Drogheda to Dublin City Centre.

There will be a more than doubling of service and passenger capacity from Drogheda to the city centre by increasing the number of trains from 11 to 24, an increase in capacity for commuters from 12,500 – 26,600.

Promised is the delivery of a 50% increase in service and capacity from Malahide to City Centre through an increase from 20 to 30 trains. This will mean an increase in capacity from 23,300 – 33,800 passengers.

There will be a potential doubling of service frequency and capacity on the Howth Branch from 9 to 18 trains through the possible introduction of a shuttle train service between Howth and Howth Junction & Donaghmede stations. This would provide an increase in passenger capacity on the Howth Branch from 10,800 – 21,600 passengers per 3 hour peak period.

Welcoming the public consultation launch, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD said: “DART+ Coastal North will bring frequent electrified rail to communities all along the North Dublin coastline. If we provide high quality, sustainable public transport, we know people will use it and this consultation marks an important step in delivering this infrastructure and improving our rail network in Dublin.

“We urge the public to get involved and give feedback so that we can facilitate regular, reliable and climate resilient public transport in the area and ultimately transform how we travel.”

Chief Executive of Iarnród Éireann Jim Meade said: “This is another positive day for our customers and the communities around the Greater Dublin Area as we continue to progress the DART+ Programme. DART+ Coastal North will ensure more communities along the Northern Line benefit from the increase in capacity, frequency and reliability the DART can provide. DART+ Coastal North is the next step in building a more sustainable transport network and will be the first of our routes on which the battery/electric hybrid carriages from the new DART+ Fleet will be utilised when they come into service in 2025.

Feedback is important to us and will be central to the ongoing design process.

I encourage communities along the DART+ Coastal North route to engage with the consultation process and have your say in shaping the revolutionary DART+ Programme.”

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