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€200m DART plan outlines Dublin Airport link

Iarnród Éireann’s business plan projects DART passenger levels of up to 9.4 million people by 2030.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

IARNRÓD ÉIREANN has submitted a €200 million DART extension plan to the Minister for Transport which outlines a proposal to add Dublin Airport to the rail line.

The rail company says that the project could see a significant increase in passengers on the DART system and that fare revenue would cover operating costs, meaning no operational subsidy required.

The DART airport link business plan has been submitted to Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar and the government is expected to decide on its investment priorities for transport before the end of the year. The government is expected to drop the Metro North and underground DART plans due to constrained public expenditure.

The airport link plan proposals extending the line at Clongriffin out to Dublin Airport, enabling the company to operate frequent services to and from the airport. It projects that the journey from the airport to Dublin city centre would take 25 minutes and services would run from 5am to 1am daily.

Iarnród Éireann says that for a “relatively moderate” cost of €200 million (excluding VAT), the 7-kilometre link could generate major traffic “on the scale of a substantial urban area”:

By constructing a very short length of track of approximately 7 km, the DART and Commuter systems on the northern line are linked to a major source of employment and trip making. Employment in the wider airport environs is predicted to rise to 20,000 persons and some 38 million air passengers will use the airport in 2030.

This economic return is enhanced by the fact that construction of the Link will be largely in green field, thus minimising both the capital costs and the disruption during the construction phase.

(Image via Ianród Éireann)

The plan, commissioned by Iarnród Éireann and developed by AECOM and Goodbody Consultants, also projects that annual passenger levels would rise to 9.4 million people by 2030 – a 50 per cent increase on current passenger levels.

It says that the airport rail link could generate up to €1 billion in net present value terms, with an internal rate of return of almost 24 per cent. After subjecting the business case to “more pessimistic scenarios” in stress testing, it projects a net present value of €450 million and an internal rate of return of 14 per cent.

Iarnród Éireann says that the estimated construction cost of the project is lower than previous estimates, reflecting “the selection of route and station options to minimise costs and the lower cost environment now operating”. It says that the airport link also has benefits for tourism and the attraction of foreign direct investment.

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