The DART on its way to Drogheda.
The DART is coming to Drogheda and should be here by 2023. That was the message to Deputy Fergus O'Dowd from Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan in the Dáil yesterday.
Deputy O’Dowd pointed out to the Minister that the Drogheda and East Meath area is experiencing rapid and phenomenal population growth which added urgency to the provision of adequate public transport.
Deputy Ryan explained that the DART expansion programme, it’s called DATR+, comprises five complementary projects: DART+ West; DART+ South West; DART+ Coastal North; DART+ Coastal South; and DART+ Fleet.
“Naturally, there is a sequencing to the delivery of these different projects as each sits within the overall programme framework” he said.
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He did say however that DART+ Fleet, which pertains to the northern line to Drogheda, will enable improved services on the line in advance of electrification.
“This will be achieved through the use of battery-electric units on the current northern line and will mean improved and expanded services for passengers” the Minister said.
“A preferred bidder has been identified but it is too early at this stage to give an indicative date as regards when one can expect to see the new fleet introduced into service.
“However, that should become a lot clearer in the next few months as contracts are signed and commitments made.”
The northern line will also benefit from the introduction in 2023 of new intercity railcars, which are currently being built and will provide a welcome boost to capacity and services in the short term.
Deputy O'Dowd said that he welcomed the commitment to extend the DART to Drogheda and that he would be meeting Jim Meade, the chief executive of Irish Rail, next week to discuss further plans they may have for that.
“It is absolutely critical that the Minister continues with the commitment ... I have no doubt he will be aware, as I am, of the backup of traffic in Julianstown coming from east Meath, Drogheda and south Louth trying to get to Dublin and indeed traffic coming from Dublin to get into that same area for people going to work.
“It is critical that we have both an alternative bypass of Julianstown and also a high-speed hybrid electric fleet in place as soon as possible.
“To be clear, I think what the Minister is saying is that the hybrid vehicles will be on the rails before the electrification comes and that should mean it will be in place much sooner than one would normally expect.
Minister Ryan replied that the new ICR units which can fit within the existing train, adding an additional carriage will be coming in 2023.
“That is very welcome” O’Dowd said. “The key point is that Drogheda will become a major regional transport hub. Hopefully we will have a new station in north Drogheda, and Laytown itself will become a DART station.
“The frequency of commuter services between Dundalk and the whole northeast will also be significantly improved by making Drogheda city a hub for rail transport."
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