Green Party TD for Wicklow Steven Matthews has launched a proposal to electrify the rail line and extend the DART to Wicklow Town. Deputy Matthews believes that his proposal would benefit the people of Kilcoole, Newcastle and Wicklow Town, and ultimately pose further opportunities for the people of Arklow, Rathdrum, Avoca and Glenealy.
Deputy Matthews said, ‘I have engaged with the Minister for Transport on the proposal and discussed it with Irish Rail and Wicklow County Council. It makes a lot of sense from an engineering, financial and environmental perspective. I have considered and studied this proposal for some time and have made a very strong case to expand the DART+ investment programme to include extending DART services to Wicklow Town. The service would also benefit Kilcoole, Newcastle and provides the option of a stop to serve the Charlesland area. There is also a possibility of extending the service to Arklow with battery electric trains. I previously raised the possibility of this with the NTA and they have also indicated they would consider the idea.
Deputy Matthews said his proposal improves on the current DART Coastal Plan, would be less disruptive and makes more financial sense.
“Now is the time for Wicklow residents to have a proper reliable rail service. I was critical of the original DART+ plan as it neglected Wicklow though it has since been upgraded to include a DART Coastal phase to provide better DART services to the south to Greystones only. My proposal improves on that service and expands it to Wicklow Town.
DART+ Coastal seeks to increase the frequency of electric trains between Bray and Greystones to six trains per hour by installing a double track section north of Greystones. These engineering works would be considerable, disruptive, slow to deliver and costly and involve bridge works, major embankment works, likely CPO of lands and extensive signalling alterations.
My proposal would greatly reduce the need for construction works at Greystones and extend the overhead electrified system to Wicklow Town which would provide a full DART service from Wicklow to the City Centre. This is a sustainable, economic and efficient transport option. A good rail service will also relieve pressure on the N11 and provide commuters with an alternative to car use.
Deputy Matthews also described how his electrification proposal to Wicklow Town provides an enormous opportunity for Arklow, Rathdrum, Glenealy and Avoca. “I have also discussed the provision of battery electric trains on the Wicklow line. There has been huge progress in the development of battery trains and I would expect that we will see these type of trains in use in Ireland in the near future. A battery train has a range of about 80km and is charged as it travels through electrified sections. A battery train can easily service Wicklow to Arklow return and recharge when it returns to the electrified section.
“For too many years the Wicklow rail line has been ignored and under-utilised with little alternative for commuters except an over capacity and congested N11. One of my objectives on seeking election was to provide better public transport for the people of Wicklow. My proposal to electrify to Wicklow is cost effective, sensible and deliverable.”