David Franks, chief executive of Irish Rail
People could soon be able to travel to Dublin Airport from Dundalk train station.
That’s if an ambitious Irish Rail plan to link the airport with Cork, Galway and Belfast comes off.
The proposed new line was revealed by Iarnrod Éireann chief executive David Franks in an interview with The Irish Independent.
While the line would cost in the region of €300m, it would open the entire rail network to air passengers and boost tourism. Dublin Airport is one of the few major airports in Europe without a rail link to its city centre.
“One of the biggest contributions we can make to the economy is moving people over long distances and into city centres fast,” the chief executive told the Irish Independent.
“My vision is more a Manchester Airport connection where you can go all over the country using diesel trains.
“You could gain access to Cork, Galway or Belfast. We think it could be done for about €300m, but that’s very rough and ready.”
Irish Rail might run intercity services direct to the airport, or else link the airport and city by DART before switching to intercity trains.
The ambitious plan would involve building a spur line to the airport from Clongriffin.
This is already being considered by the Department of Transport, in the context of developing a new public transport option for north Dublin.
But the second part would involve a second line from the airport to Swords, before connecting back onto the main Dublin-Belfast line, which would also service commuters from Drogheda and Dundalk.
Trains could run every 15 minutes into the city, with the trip taking 20 minutes. As the line is underneath the flight path, no property would be affected.
Irish Rail believes it could be built in less than five years, and carry three million airport passengers. Research suggests that 24pc of people travelling through airports use a rail link.
The scheme would also be enhanced if the proposed DART Underground project goes ahead, which will link the main lines between Heuston Station and Connolly Station.