M3 Parkway Transformation & expansion of DART Network set to begin

The application for a Railway Order for DART+ West is set to be lodged later this week, Iarnród Éireann has said.  The application will seek permission to extend the electrified DART network from Connolly/Spencer Dock area to west of Maynooth, Co Kildare and to M3 Parkway, Co. Meath.  It is set to be the first major Railway Order application under the current National Development Plan.

The Railway Order application will be lodged by Coras Iompair Éireann (CIÉ), holding company for Iarnród Éireann, with An Bord Pleanála on Friday 29th July next. The statutory public consultation period will then commence on 5th August and run until 30th September, a period of eight weeks.

Funded by the NTA, under Project Ireland 2040, DART+ West will provide a greatly enhanced passenger carrying capacity with increases of more than 160%.  It will deliver a more sustainable transport option, via electrification and new electric trains, for communities in Maynooth, Leixlip, Clonsilla, Coolmine, Castleknock, Navan Road, Ashtown, Broombridge, Pelletstown, Drumcondra, Spencer Dock and Connolly on the Maynooth line, as well as Hansfield, Dunboyne and M3 Parkway on the M3 Parkway line.

The planned infrastructure improvements include:

  • 40Km of electrification and re-signalling of the Maynooth and M3 Parkway lines to the city centre, to allow more trains operate, and more sustainably.
  • A new second station entrance on Preston Street and rail capacity enhancements at Connolly Station.
  • Construction of a new station at Spencer Dock with direct interchange with the Luas Red Line.
  • Closure of six level crossings & provision of replacements accesses where required for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, to ensure increased service frequency does not result in road congestion at level crossings, or impact on connectivity within communities.
  • Construction of a new DART depot facility west of Maynooth Station, to maintain the new DART+ fleet.
  • All civil, bridge and ancillary works as necessary to accommodate the project.
  • New electric DART carriages for the DART+ Programme will be deployed on Maynooth / M3 Parkway services.

There have previously been two rounds of non-statutory public consultation, on this project, with a third local consultation taking place at Ashtown. Changes have been made as a result of feedback. The main changes have been to the level crossing closure solution at Ashtown and the removal of the vehicular bridge at Coolmine.

Potentially impacted owners and occupiers of lands referenced in the Railway Order Application will be contacted directly in advance of the lodgement of the order on 29th July. As part of the statutory consultation process, members of the public, prescribed bodies and directly impacted landowners and occupiers are welcome to make submissions from 5th August until 30th September.   A stand alone Railway Order application website www.dartwestrailwayorder.ie will be live and will feature all of the Railway Order documents. Hard copies of the documents will be available to view at the locations listed below from 5th August.  The website will also give details of how to obtain hard and soft copies of all or some aspects of the order.

It is anticipated when the consultation period closes, an oral hearing will be heard into the application by An Bord Pleanála. Subject to receiving An Bord Pleanála approval and funding allocation  it is anticipated that construction will commence in 2024 and DART+ West will enter into operation in 2029.

Minister for Transport, Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport Éamon Ryan T.D said: “This government is absolutely committed to extending quality public transport to more and more communities, from an environmental point of view, but critically, from a social and economic point of view. Dart+ West will, for the first time, connect established and new and growing communities to the west of our capital city and into Kildare and Meath along a modern, electrified, fast and frequent rail line. This is a transport line along which many younger couples and families have made their homes particularly. Dart + West will give these communities a reliable and direct rail connection to the city, and offer an end to the commuting and congestion that too many have had to deal with on roads into the city. It will also mean that they can connect with the other light rail, bus and inter-rail options around the city. This is the first of many railway orders to come, which will transform travel in the Greater Dublin area, and help us meet our climate targets.”

Chief Executive of Iarnród Éireann Jim Meade said: “Today is a great day for the communities of West Dublin, North Kildare and East Meath.  The provision of DART services will transform commuting for the existing and new communities along this railway corridor. It will make travelling with us more sustainable, more frequent and more reliable. This is the first DART+ project to submit a railway order, DART+ South West and DART+ Coastal North and South will follow. The DART+ programme, when delivered, will truly revolutionise commuting in the Greater Dublin Area and assist in meeting Ireland’s climate action targets by reducing reliance on the private car and providing sustainable high frequency, high capacity public transport.”

Anne Graham, CEO, National Transport Authority said: “I very much welcome today’s announcement on the DART+ project and this development is a clear indication of the real progress that is being made across the Programme. Thanks to DART+, passenger capacity and service frequency will be vastly improved for people across the rail network in the Greater Dublin Area over the coming years. DART+ will allow more people to make sustainable travel choices and will contribute to reducing our emissions by providing a reliable alternative to the private car. NTA looks forward to continuing to work with Iarnród Éireann in making DART+ a reality.”