DART to Dublin Airport possible by 2030 claims Irish Rail bossMike Finnerty 01 Feb 2024
Irish Rail boss Jim Meade has told an Oireachtas Committee that it would take five years to build a DART service for Dublin Airport.
Meade told the Committee that the DART service would be built in addition to the long-delayed Metrolink, which was first floated all the way back in 2000.
He stated that it was the desire of the European Commission to connect all of Europe’s major city airports by heavy rail by the year 2040.
According to Meade, it is European policy that any airport that carries over 12 million passengers a year should be linked up to a heavy rail service.
Sinn Féin TD for Leitrim, Martin Kenny, grilled Meade about the possibility of the DART being built within his proposed five-year time frame, citing the example of the Metro North Line.
The Metro North Line, first proposed during Bertie Ahern’s first term as Taoiseach, is now not expected to be built until the middle of the 2030s barring any further (and some argue, inevitable) delay.
Kenny, who serves as the Sinn Féin spokesperson on transport, said “even if we started building the Metro tomorrow, it would probably be 7, 8, 10 years away.”
“We want to see something progressive to happen soon.”
Meade replied in turn that it was Government’s decision if they wanted the project to proceed or not, and with a “fair wind,” the planning process would take between two and two and a half years with construction taking a similar amount of time.
He said that a DART to Dublin Airport is not currently in the National Development Plan, so the ball would be in the court as far as Government were concerned.
The five-year time frame, he said, could be pulled off if the route was elevated and the DART followed the flight path west of Clongriffin.
“We can deliver if we’re asked to do it,” he told the Committee, and “it isn’t an either/or situation.”
“You absolutely need the Metro, and there’s an option to put heavy rail in as well if so required.”
Speaking to an Oireachtas Committee before Christmas, Dublin Airport boss Kenny Jacobs said that Dublin Airport is “ready” for the Metrolink.
Dublin Airport being one of the only major airports without a rail link to the city centre has long been a point of contention among Irish citizens, but this proposed DART service isn’t seen as a silver bullet by some.
Trinity lecturer in transportation Brian Caulfield said the proposed service “would ignore all of the predicted passenger numbers along the rest of the route.”
He noted that under the proposed plan, “Metrolink has a stop at the airport but it’s a service for the northern part of the city.”
Former Fine Gael TD Noel Rock agreed, noting “the airport is essentially an incidental advantage to the broader advantages offered by Metro.”
Labour TD for the nearby Dublin Fingal, Duncan Smith, said he was “disappointed” that Sinn Féin had proposed the DART service to the airport as it would leave out constituents in his own area of Swords, as well as Ballymun and DCU in the North-West of Dublin.
Current plans for the Metrolink would see Estuary Station serve as the terminus point for the Northside, and make its way through Seatown Station, Swords Central, Dublin Airport, Dairdstown Station, Northwood, Ballymun, before going all the way to Charlemont Station on the Southside.
Statistics from Irish Rail stated that 46.1 million journeys were made on their services in 2023, with Irish Rail closing in on their pre-Covid target of 50 million journeys and that they were making progress in solving the long-running saga of why food and drink isn’t offered on all services.
Food and drink services were halted after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the tender with the company providing the service lapsed.
Meade said that costs have increased by four and fivefold since the tender process was renewed, but he said that he is confident that the services will be back in action on all routes by the end of 2024.