The National Transport Authority have reaffirmed their commitment to expanding DART services to Drogheda, announced earlier this year.
Extending the DART programme from Dublin city centre to Drogheda on the Northern Line was announced as part of a wider series of extensions that would see services also reach Maynooth and Celbridge. It is expected that work on the project will take several years.
In a letter to Drogheda-based TD Fergus O’Dowd, the NTA confirmed that the provision of DART services to Drogheda remains a “key priority”.
The NTA say that tenders for the appointment of a design team to work on the electrification of the line to Drogheda, and changes inclusive, have been received by Irish Rail. The design team is expected to be appointed before the end of the year.
Tenders have already been sought for new trains to service the extended route. This will include a conventional fully electric
DART fleet, as well as hybrid electric-battery DART fleet.
The latter would be able to operative via overhead power lines, if available, but can also operate long distances via battery power only, if the line is not electrified.
The National Transport Authority say that they expect that the fleet contract will be awarded next Spring but they admit the manufacture of the new trains will take a number of years, meaning their introduction to service is a long way off at this point.
The purchase of a hybrid electric-battery fleet would mean that DART services to Drogheda could be introduced in advance of the full electrification of the line, depending on which is first.
The Dart+ programme was launched by Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan in August. DART stands for Dublin Area Rapid Transit and is the electric rail system in the capital. It currently runs along the coast of the Irish Sea from Malahide or Howth in north County Dublin southwards as far as Greystones, Co Wicklow.