THE Government’s plans to extend the DART to Balbriggan by 2022 have been criticised by general election candidates in Dublin Fingal.
Joe O’Brien, the Green Party’s candidate in the constituency, described the plans, which include shelving the DART Underground proposal, as “disjointed”.
“I don’t think the northern line commuters I share the train with during the week will be very excited about a seven-year wait for improvements to the service provided for Balbriggan, Skerries, Rush, Lusk, Donabate, Malahide and Portmarnock,” said Mr O’Brien.
“That is, of course, if they have a seat which is increasingly hard to come by on these overloaded trains in the morning and evening.
I think this can at best be seen as a weak election promise.”
Mr O’Brien also criticised the decision to shelve the underground system in the city.
“This is also a huge loss for the north county and beyond,” he stated.
“By bringing together the four regional rail corridors, the underground link could have transformed the entire commuter belt on the east coast,” he added.
“We want and need a rail system that can respond to current demand but will also properly serve a whole region for many decades to come.”
Louise O’Reilly, Sinn Féin’s candidate for Dublin Fingal, believes the Government has demonstrated a “lack of ambition” with the news that the DART will only be extended to Balbriggan by 2022.
“The citizens and commuters of North Dublin need transport solutions now,” she argued.
“The current public transport services in places are wholly inadequate and will not meet increasing demand as the population expands in the area in the coming years.
“Fingal and the surrounding area is woefully bereft of viable, reliable transport links and this Government’s record on the matter has not been good.”
Senator Darragh O’Brien, who will also contest the general election in the constituency for Fianna Fáil, has expressed concern that the DART could be seen as a replacement for the current train service that serves communities across north county Dublin.
“While on the surface extending the DART seems like a positive announcement for north Dublin, the reality is that this alone will not improve capacity on the line,” claimed Senator O’Brien.
“In fact, there are real fears that the move will result in a scaling back of the highly valuable commuter train services serving Balbriggan, Skerries, Rush and Lusk, Donabate and the north county.”
However, Fingal TDs Brendan Ryan (Lab) and Alan Farrell (FG) have both welcomed the plans.
Deputy Ryan said: “This is welcome news and will ensure that by 2022 the train line serving north county Dublin will be capable of providing a DART service for commuters.
“This is something I have been pressing for many years and it is much overdue, though very welcome.”
Deputy Farrell pointed out that Census 2011 identified Dublin Fingal as having a growth rate roughly four times greater than that of Dublin city.
“With this in mind, it is essential that long-term, sustainable, rail infrastructure is put in place to cater for the needs of residents in our local community,” he said. “I believe that the expansion of the DART to Donabate, Rush and Lusk, Skerries and Balbriggan will finally provide an adequate level of service to each of these stations which will greatly benefit local residents, particularly those who commute to the city centre every day.”