Ireland’s Cabinet has approved the DART+ South West rail project to enter the planning stage which when completed will extend rail connection from Dublin city centre to Hazelhatch and Celbridge train station in County Kildare.
The approval “highlights our commitment to invest in high-quality public transport and decarbonise Ireland’s transport system. This rail project will transform the lives of people living in communities along the route, giving them a fast, reliable and frequent train service into Dublin. It also means that we can move ahead with good, transport led planning, facilitating vital affordable new housing along the route,” Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan said.
Following government approval, a Railway Order (planning application) for DART+ South West, will be submitted to An Bord Pleanála by the end of March.
The project covers new and electrified infrastructure on 20 km line from Hazelhatch and Celbridge station to Glasnevin via the Phoenix Park Tunnel Branch Line. The works also include the quadrupling of rail track between Park West and Heuston and the construction of Heuston West new station at Islandbridge. The project involves electrification of the Phoenix Park tunnel along with the wider route, allowing DART trains to operate between Hazelhatch/Celbridge and Connolly station, and beyond, as well as Heuston station.
The works are scheduled to start in 2025 and completed “by the end of the decade”, the Ministry of Transport says.
Train services across the new line will at least double in frequency, with up to 11 trains each way per hour at peak times serving stations upon completion of the project. This will increase the number of passengers that can travel to and from Dublin city along the route from 5,000 per direction per hour at present to 20,000 in future.
DART+ South West rail project will provide a fast, high-frequency rail service to communities along the route at Islandbridge, Park West and Cherry Orchard, Clondalkin, Adamstown, and Celbridge and Hazelhatch. The project is part of DART+ Programme which covers the network expansion by 100 km lines from currently 50 km to 150 km in the Greater Dublin Area.
DART+ development strategy includes the construction, electrification and upgrade works to be carried out on four rail connections as well as train fleet procurement project.
The DART+ West to Maynooth project consists of the electrification of 40 km of railway lines and passenger capacity will be increased by 160%. It includes the construction of a new station and a depot facility west of Maynooth station and the closure of six level crossings. The Coastal North improvement project will provide an extension of the existing electrified rail network from Malahide to Drogheda MacBride station and will provide the infrastructure to facilitate an increase to the rail capacity on the Northern Line between Dublin City Centre and Drogheda MacBride Station, including on the Howth Branch.
The Coastal South will provide increased and improved electrified rail system with additional passenger capacity and enhanced train services between Drogheda in the north to Greystones in the south covering 86 km. The electrification works will be performed on a 37 km rail line from Malahide to Drogheda. Arup was appointed to provide engineering services for the upgrade of the line.
The DART+ South West project consists of four-tracking line between Park West and Cherry Orchard station and Heuston station and electrification works which will increase train capacity from currently 12 trains per hour per direction to 23 trains per hour per direction. This will maintain the existing 12 services, with an additional 11 train services provided by DART+ South West.
The DART+ Coastal projects are currently at an early stage in the project timeline with an assessment of options currently being undertaken. The projects are funded by the National Transport Authority, under Project Ireland 2040. Upon completion, DART+ Coastal projects will see the extension of electrification of the line from Malahide to Drogheda with improvements along the existing DART line from Malahide/Howth to Greystones.
DART+ programme will allow many more people to travel conveniently and sustainably by public transport. The number of people living within 1 km of a DART station will increase hugely from about 250,000 at present to 600,000 in future.
Under the DART+ Programme the government has acquired 18 five-car battery-electric multiple units (BEMUs) from Alstom under a EUR 160 million contract signed in December 2022. The procurement is funded by the Department of Transport through the National Transport Authority (NTA). The new trains are expected to enter operation from 2026.