DUBLINERS could soon be travelling beneath the Phoenix Park as a proposal to re-open the rail tunnel to commuter trains is considered.
A feasibility study into the potential use of the Phoenix Park tunnel has been concluded by the National Transport Authority for the running of commuter train services from Heuston Station on the rail line through to Connolly, Tara Street, Pearse Street and Grand Canal Dock stations.
The proposal is estimated to cost €12 million and could see services commencing by the end of 2015 or early 2016.
The tunnel is currently used for passenger services of occasional events like GAA matches and to move empty carriages from Heuston to Connolly.
Commenting on the proposal, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said: “One of the first things I did in office was to travel through the Phoenix Park tunnel with my staff to examine it at first hand, as the public authorities had been rejecting this proposal for years. Having seen it for myself, I then asked officials to look afresh at the possibility of using the tunnel.
“No final decision has been made as of yet… The project would require political sign-off but the cost-benefit analysis is very positive. Opening up the Phoenix Park tunnel would be particularly beneficial to commuters from Kildare. It would also allow Cork and Limerick trains to travel into the city centre,” he added.
A spokesperson for the NTA said it was envisaged that up to four services in the peak hour could be operated, extending, potentially, from Kildare (and serving various stations between Kildare and Heuston) to connect with Connolly, Tara Street, Pearse and Grand Canal Dock stations in the city centre.
The proposal is contingent upon the completion of a major separate project to re-signal the city centre section of the railway system, from Connolly Station to Grand Canal Dock station. “The completion of these resignalling works (which are already being progressed) in 2015 will enable up to 20 trains per hour per direction along this section.”
The Phoenix Park tunnel was built in 1877 and is 692 metres long, running in a north-south direction under the eastern end of Phoenix Park.