There’s going to be a railway station in the Docklands. You probably heard about it. There’s going to be a Luas line into the docklands too. You’re bound to have heard of that.
So then, you conclude, the docklands is a mighty important spot. The Luas extension to the Point Depot will be great for people going to see the Boyzone reunion and the Mickey Mouse Ice Show.
If you live in Finglas, Lucan, Rathfarnham or many other places betwixt and between, you might wonder how concert goers matter more than you do.
In fact, there’s a lot more effort to provide extra services to those who already have transport than to those who have to do without.
Take, for example, the Luas Green line. Very nice, very popular. It’s due to be dismantled so that a Metro can be run along its tracks. More on top of more.
Extensions to the Luas are planned in all directions. An interconnector is on the way to connect up the rail lines. Meanwhile, the whole south-west of city has no rail services planned for the next twenty years.
This is a natural phenomenon, I suppose, where it’s easier to spend a few million on an add-on than a billion on a new line. Equally, some might argue, you should get the present services right before you go building any new ones.
And so we have the Docklands station due to open next year. It’s first job will be to serve as the city centre terminus for the Maynooth line. The poor commuters on the western line suffer cattle trailer-like conditions at rush hour so nobody could deny them some relief.
But hold on a minute. The new Docklands station is nowhere near the city centre. It’s a half a mile from Connolly. How many people who currently use the Maynooth line are going to want to alight halfway down Sherrif Street with no connections to the Dart?
The problem the rail people are trying to solve is that there is no room for more trains on the loop line in the city centre and that the Dockland station will provide unlimited capacity.
The clincher for them is that the interconnector from Heuston will link up at Docklands. Which means the interconnector, the single most important piece of rail infrastructure to be built in Dublin for the next twenty years, will not pass through Connolly.
It seems to me that the Docklands station is being built there because there is a track going there. It seems a bit more logical to me to build the track where people want to go.
It makes a lot more sense to build a Dart flyover on the Northern line to allow Maynooth trains to terminate at Connolly. That way the overall transport system is integrated. The system going forward should be designed that people only have to make one change on their journey otherwise the advantage over car transport is lost.
Yet the Docklands station will be 200 meters from the Luas; the proposed airport station will be 700 meters from the terminal; and the metro and the Dart might not be linked at all!
We need joined up thinking for a joined up rail system.