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(Article) Think tank: Radical departure for Dublin rail plan

  • 27-08-2009 1:00am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 20,299 ✭✭✭✭ MadsL


    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/ireland/article6806595.ece

    Irish Rail loves to spend big, but there is a cheaper way to connect the capital Ruadhán MacEoin

    Recommend? (1)
    An Bord Snip Nua has said €55m should be saved by closing about 240km of railway around the country. Irish Rail, however, has different plans. It is seeking to build a €100m office block on top of Tara Street station in central Dublin, in conjunction with a property developer. The problem is, of course, the capital has a glut of post-Celtic tiger office space lying empty and it’s hard to think of any developers with money to invest.

    Irish Rail is also advancing a plan to build about 8km of underground railway in Dublin city centre, at a cost of up to €2 billion. Connecting Spencer Dock in east Dublin with Heuston station on the western outskirts, the interconnector certainly has merit. Once completed, suburban trains will be able to go from Balbriggan in north Dublin to Naas,

    Co Kildare, via Spencer Dock, St Stephen’s Green and Heuston. Trains will also be able to travel from Maynooth via Connolly station to Wicklow. Pearse station would be the interchange.

    My point is that most of these link-ups can be achieved using existing CIE lines. These include the so-called “secret” railway, which includes a tunnel under Phoenix Park, connecting Heuston to Connolly and Spencer Dock stations, forming an arc that hugs the North Circular Road. Twin-tracked all the way, this line meets safety standards and serves some of the most populated areas in the capital, including Phibsborough, Cabra and Croke Park, each of which could be served by a new station.

    Five years ago, Joe Maher, then chief executive of Irish Rail, told the Dail’s transport committee: “We certainly intend to use the park tunnel in the short term to bring trains from the Kildare/Newbridge area into Spencer Dock because there is demand for that.” But it never happened.

    While there might be additional engineering costs for works next to the Royal Canal at Phibsborough, developing what has become known as the “ghost line” would be far less expensive than building the interconnector, or Dart Underground, which was estimated in 2003 to cost €1.3 billion, but would undoubtedly be €2 billion now.

    The interconnector’s new stations will be in areas already well served by public transport. St Stephen’s Green has Luas, and the proposed station at Christ Church will be within 300 metres of the Luas’s Four Courts station. These areas will be even better served when the two Luas lines are eventually connected.

    The first step in my plan would be to run Arklow trains around to Kildare, connecting Connolly and Heuston in the process. There are no engineering impediments to this.

    Within a few months, Spencer Dock station will be served by a Luas extension. A minor junction change there would allow direct access from the Heuston and Dundalk lines. This would mean Balbriggan-Kildare trains could enter Spencer Dock and proceed in the opposite direction to Phibsborough or the Clontarf Road. A similar arrangement exists on the Dublin-Waterford line at Kilkenny. Trains could go from Balbriggan to Naas, and Maynooth to Wicklow using existing stock and infrastructure.

    Complementary to that would be the completion of the green Luas line from Stephen’s Green via O’Connell Street and Broadstone station to Phibsborough, connecting with the commuter trains. Based on Luas construction costs to date, this could probably be done for €120m.

    Under my plans, Dublin could have an integrated rail and Luas network for less than €200m. Most of the population between the canals would be no more than 10 minutes from a railway station.

    Irish Rail’s plans involving tunnelling under Dublin Castle, Wood Quay and Stephen’s Green; it is difficult to think of more environmentally sensitive areas in the city. Instead, using existing but idle assets offers a frugal yet realistic integration of its rail network.

    These days Irish Rail seems more interested in projects other than its core business. Public transport users are entitled to the best possible use of existing infrastructure without having to wait for grandiose schemes that may take years to build and cause huge disruption.

    To use the current rail infrastructure, it may be necessary to privatise the network and lease it to a company similar to Ryanair, whose operation is based on end-to-end demand-driven services. If don’t, we may end up with closed lines and another empty office block for the National Asset Management Agency to conjure with.

    Ruadhán MacEoin is a journalist and chairman of the Mountjoy Square Society

    Radical enough? We need to save money it would seem if we are to bail out the developers/banks restructure credit institutions.


Comments

  • Moderators, Education Moderators Posts: 4,816 Mod ✭✭✭✭ G_R


    I'm gonna go ahead and suggest open both lines. They both serve high population areas, both will be well used, and Dublin will finally have some decent Public Transport options


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,183 ✭✭✭ sdanseo


    Speaking of the interconnector, found a handy little vid by IÉ:



  • Registered Users Posts: 83 ✭✭✭ Enbee


    Utilising those lines is certainly something that should have been implemented a long time ago. Linking the two LUAS lines is also a no brainer as some overlap between Metro North and Luas is needed in the city centre.

    I can't quite see how it can seriously be mooted as an adequate replacement for the Interconnector though. I'm also not convinced by the "Most of the population between the canals would be no more than 10 minutes from a railway station" claim. Calling a LUAS stop a train station seems a bit of a stretch.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,082 Chris_533976


    I definately dont think that it should replace the Interconnector, but having the PP Tunnel just sitting there is absolutly ludicrous.


  • Registered Users Posts: 368 ✭✭ Empire o de Sun


    The interconnector is one of the transport project that makes most sense. If you have stations throughout the city centre, this will make the existing lines more viable and rail travel more attractive.

    yes there is the phoenix park tunnel, and it can be used, but the line goes nowhere near the city centre except until you get to Connolly or Tara, Heuston isn't even served.

    The interconnector will serve Heuston, Christchurch area, Stephens Green, Pears, Docklands

    By far the better route.

    And saying that st.stephens green is already served by the luas. Does this person think that cos there is a luas line there you are magically transported to anywhere in the country.

    In my opinion the interconnector should be built first before Metro.

    The construction maintenance or reopening of any rail or metro or tram lines or any rail infrastructure should be done by one body. CIÉ should just operate trains.

    This body should be free from CIÉ legacy and inherit as frew prople as possible from CIÉ. and this body should include the RPA and the NRA maybe.


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  • Moderators, Education Moderators Posts: 4,816 Mod ✭✭✭✭ G_R


    The construction maintenance or reopening of any rail or metro or tram lines or any rail infrastructure should be done by one body. CIÉ should just operate trains.

    This body should be free from CIÉ legacy and inherit as frew prople as possible from CIÉ. and this body should include the RPA and the NRA maybe.

    well first off, CIÉ no longer exists afaik, it was broken down into BÉ, IR and DB, all seperate companies.

    second the NRA is the roads authority, so i dont think they would really want anything to do with Dublins mass transit systems, they have enough on their plate methinks.

    thirdly, i reckon it should be built by the government, then handed over to a private company to run it properly, along with all the other DART services and MN. I'm thinking maybe Veoila, as there can be proper integrated ticketing with the LUAS. I'm sure it would be a nightmare trying to get IR to share the tracks and stations if a private company was created but hey, no harm in hoping!

    Someone correct me if im wrong but as far as i kno, the only profitable Mass Transit system in Dublin is the LUAS..and look who doesn't run that...


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 4,401 Mod ✭✭✭✭ spacetweek


    Bad journalism printing this letter. The PPT option has already been investigated to death and, quite rightly, ruled out. People like Ruadhán MacEoin always think the gov are stupid and it hasn't occurred to them to use an existing line.

    The PPT would not serve Heuston, would not serve the city centre (Connolly Station is NOT the city centre) and drops you off in congested Connolly Station. Forget it, stop messing around and get this and the Metro off the ground. I'd love to see the two of them open on the same day.


  • Registered Users Posts: 368 ✭✭ Empire o de Sun


    CIÉ still exists I think. Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus and Iarnród Éireann are all subsidiaries aren't they?

    The NRA will be very quiet soon and a railway is a not much different from a road. They only major difference is no road surface and rails. When a new railway is built, it is effecively no different from a road until the rails are put on.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 624 Aidan1


    The McCarthy Report (Bord Snip) recomends merging the RPA and the NRA. I'm not sure if its said explicitly or not, but the logic seems to be to leverage the very extensive knowledge and experience of a wide range of contracts that exists within the NRA . The credit for the improved efficiency and effectiveness of road construction in this state from 2004/5 on lies with a very small number of people within that agency (and the DoT to a lesser extent) - transferring that experience to the two large rail transport projects seems entirely sensible.

    Mr MacEoin's argument are basically just a rehash of those that circulated widely in the very early part of this decade. The reasons why it isn't a good idea (and hasn't been adopted) have been explained at great length already, but, in short, it doesn't go where people want, it doesn't link the two separate commuter rail systems in Dublin together in such a way as to provide for a dramatic increase in capacity, it would feed further traffic into already identified choke points on the network - and finally, just because there could be a station within a reasonable distance, doesn't mean it will be served by a frequent, reliable train service that actually takes you where you want to go!


  • Moderators, Education Moderators Posts: 4,816 Mod ✭✭✭✭ G_R


    CIÉ still exists I think. Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus and Iarnród Éireann are all subsidiaries aren't they?

    yep your right about that sorry
    The NRA will be very quiet soon and a railway is a not much different from a road. They only major difference is no road surface and rails. When a new railway is built, it is effecively no different from a road until the rails are put on.

    even so i think we should keep the NRA for roads and the RPA for rail. I'd say that most of the specialist knowledge that the NRA need(ed)(s) for building tunnels would have been sourced from private companies. There is no reason that RPA cant hire the same people if they need to


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 380 ✭✭ ODS


    dannym08 wrote: »
    I'm gonna go ahead and suggest open both lines. They both serve high population areas, both will be well used, and Dublin will finally have some decent Public Transport options

    Agree with this.
    spacetweek wrote:
    People like Ruadhán MacEoin always think the gov are stupid and it hasn't occurred to them to use an existing line...The PPT would not serve Heuston, would not serve the city centre (Connolly Station is NOT the city centre) and drops you off in congested Connolly Station.

    Disagree. I think you may have misread MacEoin's article - he doesn't suggest sending more trains into Connolly, but in fact diverting Balbriggan/ Dundalk trains into Spencer Dock and then sending them on round by Heuston out to Kildare; likewise in reverse from Kildare to Spencer Dock and onto Balbriggan/ Dundalk. This would alleviate Connolly/ Loopline. I also disagree with your assessment it would not serve Heuston - certainly there's a 600 metre walk between the main station and platform 10, yet this is common all over Europe and could be mitigated by moving walkways and/ or other measures. If MacEoin thinks the "gov are stupid" maybe he has a point - what other European govt has got their country into the mess that ours has?

    MacEoin has posted on Archiseek where he has further explained his position. I think it's worth hearing. He has also posted a population density map which I don't know how to re-post but is very relevant here:
    http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=6803&page=6
    (Maybe some one else who's tech minded might post below?)
    Ruadh&#225 wrote: »
    By routing Kildare - Spencer Dock - Balbriggan/ Dundalk trains on the upper former GSWR line, Maynooth - Connolly - Co. Wicklow trains could use the parallel Royal Canal/ former MGWR line into Connolly from Liffey Junction. The two services would be grade-separated - freeing up capacity, while Phibsborough would be an interchange station between these two services, and Dart would connect with Kildare - Balbriggan/ Dundalk at Fairview, and meet Maynooth - Co. Wicklow at Connolly. Admittedly it is not perfect to have Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) entering in one way at Spencer Dock to then go the opposite direction, however it could nonetheless be made work if the will is there.

    As the record will show, while I was Press Secretary for An Taisce, during 2003 I advocated the use of these lines....It is a position I continue to stand over, not only in terms of infrastructural integration, but to my mind it appears the higher the population density, the less services Irish Rail are providing to Dubliners. Please see the map below.

    - MAP SHOWN AS IN LINK ABOVE -

    Please note the above map regrettably does not show the lines going in to Spencer Dock area, which obviously are present already

    I understand people would like the Interconnector and I too consider it deeply regrettable more money wasn't spent on railways during the boom rather than unsustainable roads.

    However given the reality of today's economic climate, and unaddressed public transport needs, we must make use of existing but idle assets. Ryanair didn't wait for new airports to be built, and neither should public transport users have to wait for significant improvements that could be delivered by existing lines and stock, if only they are put to better use.

    In February 2004 Joe Maher, then CEO of Iarnród Éireann told the Oireachtas Transport Committee: "We certainly intend to use the park tunnel in the short-term to bring trains from the Kildare/Newbridge area into Spencer Dock because there is demand for that."

    This would have made sense, as Croke Park (sandwiched between two railways) was redeveloped as Europe's 5th largest stadium, yet without a station; and of course populations in Phibsborough, the north inner city, and Cabra are among the highest in the state. However not only did Mr. Maher's committment not happen, but the new Spencer Dock station was built in such a manner so that the lines entering the area from the Northern/ Belfast and Heuston/ Phoenix Park routes do not actually connect with the station - leaving it accessible only from the Royal Canal Maynooth line.

    Dublin should have got Dart Underground and much more, and hopefully one day it will yet - but it is highly unlikely in today's economic climate.

    It is most lamentable the country has been mismanaged to such a degree over the last number of years. The choices now are painful must be addressed. To not do so is to perpetuate an ostrich-like outlook. Hence do we then adopt a Ryanair approach that could bring most of the people to most of the places most of the time? Or do we wait around for a 1980's Aer Lingus style approach that will promise all, take forever, cost a fortune we don't now have - and that's if it ever gets built?

    Turns out he snaffled the above map from our very own Victor!! :D

    In any event, if nothing else MacEoin can't be accused of group think. However in my own opinion, I think there's a flaw with what he has set out as if all Drogheda trains were to go by Spencer Dock, this would be an inconvenience to those passengers who wish to get straight to Pearse or Connolly. However then again perhaps this could be modified so as to send 50% of trains sticking to the existing routes with the rest going developed in the manner suggested.

    Certainly the population density map would indicate it is daft to have lines going through the north inner city without services on them; surely stations should be opened on these without delay, and if there's a way to integrate the existing system, that could be proceeded with - while Dart Underground would also be developed?


  • Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭✭ krugerrand


    ODS wrote: »
    Turns out he snaffled the above map from our very own Victor!! :D
    Yeah, on archiseek.com Ruadhan Mac Eoin gave no explanation of where the map came from and how the densities were calculated. Victor signed up to archiseek.com a couple of days ago and pointed out that it was his own map ! Victor himself admits that there are flaws in the map - the Electoral Division is too wide a geographical area to provide an accurate picture of the pop density.
    ODS wrote: »
    I think there's a flaw with what he has set out as if all Drogheda trains were to go by Spencer Dock, this would be an inconvenience to those passengers who wish to get straight to Pearse or Connolly. However then again perhaps this could be modified so as to send 50% of trains sticking to the existing routes with the rest going developed in the manner suggested.
    Keeping 50% on the existing loop line route does not solve the loop line capacity issue.

    Ruadhan Mac Eoin's scheme is no substitute for the Inchicore to Spencer Dock Dart Underground interconnector.

    The Dart Underground interconnector should go ahead as soon as possible.

    It's only once the Dart Underground interconnector is completed that a Pheonix Park Tunnel to Spencer Dock line would be worth developing.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 380 ✭✭ ODS


    krugerrand wrote: »
    Keeping 50% on the existing loop line route does not solve the loop line capacity issue.

    :confused:

    Drogheda line suburban trains carry about 6.5 million passenger journeys per annum - surely by relieving Connolly/ Loopline of 50% of these trains will automatically alleviate the capacity issue?
    And that's before one factors in the increased capacity of 12 to 16 movements per hour on Loopline bridge, under PACE II signaling upgrade.
    krugerrand wrote: »
    Victor himself admits that there are flaws in the map - the Electoral Division is too wide a geographical area to provide an accurate picture of the pop density.

    Victor pointed out the line into Spencer Dock wasn't shown as the station wasn't open by that time. The electoral divisions may be an approximate guide, yet it is still self-evident that the north inner city is at least as densely populated as where the Interconnector is due to pass. To have lines there and not use them for these populations is simply insane.
    krugerrand wrote: »
    Ruadhan Mac Eoin's scheme is no substitute for the Inchicore to Spencer Dock Dart Underground interconnector.

    The Dart Underground interconnector should go ahead as soon as possible.

    It's only once the Dart Underground interconnector is completed that a Pheonix Park Tunnel to Spencer Dock line would be worth developing.

    In my opinion the Interconnector should also go ahead - but populations who could benefit by the use of existing infrastructure should not have to wait on this. CIE show no intention whatsoever of using the north city lines in their Transport 21/ Interconnector plans, and so it is clear they cannot be relied upon to deliver services to the north inner city after the Interconnector.

    Existing lines must be put to use now, whether or not the Interconnector - which as stated I want to see - actually happens. Anything else is insane!


  • Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭✭ krugerrand


    ODS wrote: »
    :confused:
    Drogheda line suburban trains carry about 6.5 million passenger journeys per annum - surely by relieving Connolly/ Loopline of 50% of these trains will automatically alleviate the capacity issue?
    And that's before one factors in the increased capacity of 12 to 16 movements per hour on Loopline bridge, under PACE II signaling upgrade.
    Alleviate - yes. Solve - no.

    ODS wrote: »
    Victor pointed out the line into Spencer Dock wasn't shown as the station wasn't open by that time. The electoral divisions may be an approximate guide, yet it is still self-evident that the north inner city is at least as densely populated as where the Interconnector is due to pass. To have lines there and not use them for these populations is simply insane.
    No, actually victor also points out the limitations of using electoral divisions: http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2055004323

    Parts of the North Inner City might be densley populatated but it must also be borne in mind that since the 2006 census, there's been an massive amount of high-density residential development in Dublin 8 - south inner city.
    ODS wrote: »
    In my opinion the Interconnector should also go ahead...
    We're both agreed on that point !
    ODS wrote: »
    ...- but populations who could benefit by the use of existing infrastructure should not have to wait on this.
    Not sure if I agree with this regarding the PPT. My view is that we should wait on developing the PPT route until the interconnector is built. The ROI on a PPT route project would be severely limited without the interconnector in place first.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,468 BluntGuy


    While Mr. MacEoin's efforts to come up with a tangible, alternative solution are commendable, and indeed, many good points are made, essentially they are but mere band-aids for the present situation.

    The Interconnector project gets right to the heart of the problem, and fixes it more-or-less in one swoop. Many of MacEoin's proposals can and indeed should compliment the Interconnector project, but they certainly are not an adequate replacement for it - they just don't deliver the necessary capacity increases.

    It should also be noted there is no mention of Metro North in the article. So what happens to the vital airport link? The only other option (which I believe should go ahead regardless of whether of MN happens or not), is a DART spur to the airport from the Northern Line, which would partially have to be underground. That would certainly invalidate this statement:
    Under my plans, Dublin could have an integrated rail and Luas network for less than €200m.


  • Registered Users Posts: 83 ✭✭✭ Enbee


    BluntGuy wrote: »
    While Mr. MacEoin's efforts to come up with a tangible, alternative solution are commendable, and indeed, many good points are made, essentially they are but mere band-aids for the present situation.

    The Interconnector project gets right to the heart of the problem, and fixes it more-or-less in one swoop. Many of MacEoin's proposals can and indeed should compliment the Interconnector project, but they certainly are not an adequate replacement for it - they just don't deliver the necessary capacity increases.

    It should also be noted there is no mention of Metro North in the article. So what happens to the vital airport link? The only other option (which I believe should go ahead regardless of whether of MN happens or not), is a DART spur to the airport from the Northern Line, which would partially have to be underground.

    Precisely. The plans he advances seem to place too much emphasis on achieving an 'integrated network' rather than the right integrated network. The right integrated network being a lot like one with the Interconnector as its spine.

    I can't say I'm convinced by the need for a DART spur to the airport to complement Metro North though. That would seem like a lot of money for something that would become semi-redundant when MN was completed. Whatever about people who have to commute to it on a daily basis the express bus service through the Port Tunnel is decent enough.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,032 DWCommuter


    MacEoins suggestions include a lot of ideas muted nearer the start of this decade. While I have a strong opinion on the PPT route and usually scoff at the pitiful arguments against it, it is not a de facto replacement for the interconnector. It is, however, a valuable resource that is sidelined continuously by IE and has a huge role to play in how we want to ultimately establish the rail network in Dublin.

    In general MacEoins ideas should be taken in the context of the countrys financial predicament. We have squandered billions and pontificated over rail projects to the extent that time and money has run out. As far back as 2003 the development of smaller incremental solutions was put forward by various parties, me being one of them. Nobody listened to the warnings of the money running out as we were taking far too long to bring the gold plated solutions to fruition. I, for one, was a fan of implementing small projects that delivered immediate benefits and supported the bigger plans, but in the event of a financial collpase, left us with at least something better than nothing. This is what we face now, nothing.

    MacEoin paints a picture of what could have happened as planning/discussion/pontificating etc. took place on the interconnector, luas extensions and Metro. This may not be his intention. I would say that he now offers up this set of plans as an alternative in a cash strapped environment. That I can agree with as long as we don't lose sight of providing the bigger solutions somewhere in the future.

    I never believed that an Irish Government had the balls to commit billions to the development of rail infrastructure. Since 2000 they talked and bull****ted the nation about a metro. Claims of one being operational by 2006 were made. In fact they claimed that Navan would have its rail connection by then aswell. I believe that the power of the internet brought about Transport 21. Due to the overwhelming rise in discussion forums public opinion found a platform. One that the Government had to act on. But I fear they have weathered the storm now and got to grips with the net in terms of how their spin doctors work. While the money is gone, I'd suggest that even if it had continued to flow, our Government would have avoided committing, in real terms, to the rolling out of large scale projects.

    They shafted small solutions on the basis of big solutions. Right now the big solutions look dead in the water unless you believe them. History will teach you otherwise. End result......feck all.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 3,129 Wild Bill


    I just wonder if the inability of the anorak community to agree on the time of day is part of the problem? It is a common observation in religion and political history that the less the differences between the parties in terms of policy the more vicious and entrenched the war becomes over details.

    Look at the Luas, rail, big, small, overground, underground arguments that raged since 1995 (and still rage) - a perfect excuse for the political system to get on with doing what was their priority; the major roads network.

    I favour opening the Park Tunnel; the Interconnector, Metros N&W; all the Luas lines. The secret to actually getting something delivered is to quit the debate and move on once a decision is taken; to get behind it and not toss the toys out of the pram 'cos my pet preference wasn't selected.

    That's how the roads folk worked and as a result they have achieved something - leaving the Celtic Tiger one monumental legacy. :cool:


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