The Irish Times - Friday, September 2, 2011
Dart airport link cheaper than metro, report says
FRANK McDONALD, Environment Editor
A DART spur to Dublin airport from the existing north line at Clongriffin would cost €200 million – a fraction of estimates for Metro North – and deliver an “exceptionally high” economic return, according to consultants for Iarnród Éireann.
The railway company has submitted a business case for the seven-kilometre link to Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar and the National Transport Authority, with a view to having it included in the Government’s revised capital programme.
The business case, prepared by AECOM and Goodbody Economic Consultants, found the project would deliver economic benefits of up to €1 billion – or nearly five times its cost, excluding Vat.
The consultants forecast the number of passengers travelling by Dart would increase by 9.4 million passengers per annum.
This would result in an almost 50 per cent increase over current use of Dart services.
It would attract “substantial day-long demand” and yield “significant tourism, business and environmental benefits”.
Fare revenue would “comfortably exceed operating costs” and the airport link would also complement the Dart underground project.
The report notes that Dublin Airport is a “major source of employment and trip-making”, comparable in scale to a substantial urban area. Employment in its environs is predicted to rise to 20,000 persons and the number of passengers to 38 million a year by 2030.
The proposed Dart link would be largely in greenfield, thus minimising both capital costs and disruption during the construction phase. It would enable direct services between the airport to the city centre and all stations to Greystones.
Other locations that would be served include the Aviva Stadium at Lansdowne Road, the National Convention Centre and IFSC. The link would also connect with the Dart lines to Malahide and Howth, the Luas Red Line, mainline rail services and Busáras.
The alignment from Clongriffin would pass underneath the airport’s main flight path and, as the consultants note, this land has not been developed for safety reasons. Thus, the link could be built “without impacting on commercial or residential interests”.
Equally, however, the proposed Dart spur would not serve any community along the way; indeed, no intermediate stations are envisaged. Nor would the significant population of Swords be served.
Iarnród Éireann said yesterday it “has commenced preliminary discussions with the Dublin Airport Authority to identify preferred alignments and station locations within the airport site”, but gave no indication whether tunnelling would be required