Lower cost re-design of DART Underground project proposed

22 September 2015

The National Transport Authority has carried out a review of the key transport infrastructure projects that were proposed to support the growth of the Greater Dublin Region. The Authority has now recommended to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport that the DART Underground project be re-examined in order to deliver the required rail connectivity in the capital city with a lower cost technical solution.
DART Underground is a rail link proposal, predominately underground, from the Northern Line just north of Connolly Station, to Inchicore on the Kildare Line, and with stations proposed at Docklands, Pearse, St. Stephen’s Green, Christchurch, Heuston and Inchicore. The project received planning consent in 2011, which became operative in March 2014 following judicial review proceedings taken by a number of third parties.
The estimated cost of the currently designed DART Underground Project is €3 billion and the cost of the currently envisaged DART Expansion Programme is €4 billion. The DART Expansion Programme comprises DART Underground, as outlined above, plus:

  • Electrification of the Northern Line to Drogheda;
  • Electrification of the Cork Line from Heuston to Hazelhatch and completion of 4 tracking from Park West to Inchicore;
  • Electrification of the Sligo Line from Connolly to Maynooth, together with removal of level crossings and re-signalling; and
  • Expansion of fleet and depot facilities.

The DART Expansion Programme remains a key project in the delivery of an integrated rail transport network for the Dublin region. The overall DART Expansion Programme has been assessed as a positive project from an economic perspective.  While the DART Underground Project has received planning approval from An Bord Pleanála, the business case for that project, prepared by Iarnród Éireann, indicates that its development alone under the current railway order is not economically justified.
Given the very significant cost of the DART Expansion Programme, and recognising that a lower cost alternative for the tunnel element is possible, it is intended that the CPO for the DART Underground Project is not activated and that a new Railway Order is sought for a lower cost revised scheme.
The Authority has recommended the following:

  1. That the compulsory acquisition powers of the approved railway order for the DART Underground Project are not activated – i.e. the “notices to treat” are not issued;
  2. That the DART Underground Project is redesigned to provide a lower cost technical solution for the project, whilst retaining the required rail connectivity;
  3. That a new railway order is sought for the revised, lower cost DART Underground Project, together with any remaining elements of the overall DART Expansion Programme which have not already been approved under separate approval processes;
  4. That the design and planning work of the revised DART Underground Project is advanced in order to be available for commencement of construction after 2020; and
  5. That the non-tunnelled elements of the DART Expansion Programme be progressed in line with available funding.

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport has indicated that the forthcoming Capital Investment Plan will make provision for advancing this expansion programme.


For more details please see:

DART Underground Expansion presentation

DART Expansion Programme revised Business Case