Ballyfermot to lose train station
Dublin's newest train station is handling half its expected passenger numbers. Ballyfermot is to lose its train station, catering for 25,000 people. By Tom Rowe
Ballyfermot is to lose a train station in an upgrade to the Heuston-Kildare line. Ballyfermot, which has a population of approximately 25,000, currently has a station at Cherry Orchard, roughly 2 kilometres from the centre of the area. At peak times this station is used by only 75 people. Because of this Iarnród Éireann has decided to relocate the Cherry Orchard station one kilometre west to a new location at Parkwest when they upgrade the Kildare line.
Michael Conaghan, a Labour party member of Dublin City Council and a Ballyfermot resident, told Village that there are 7,000 houses in the Cherry Orchard station and Ballyfermot area, which has a high public transport dependency ratio. According to the councillor, the reason that the current station has such low use is because it was not linked to any other rail line, until the Luas red line, which stops at Heuston, opened in 2004. Prior to this commuters would have needed to get a bus link from Heuston into the city. The station is also in poor condition. On 3 April, Labour Leader Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport why this decision to relocate the station was made and if he would ensure that it is immediately revised. Minister Martin Cullen replied that the new station at Parkwest would be constructed by developers at no cost to the taxpayer. He also said that timetable improvements could not be implemented if the existing station was used, due to technical difficulties. Iarnród Éireann advised that “the feasibility of the project, in terms of operational outcomes and the business case, depends on the relocation to Parkwest.” Parkwest is the location of a major new business park and residential development.
This change of location of the Cherry Orchard station is part of the Kildare Route Project (KRP), a major capital investment plan that aims to increase the frequency of commuter and other services along the Kildare to Heuston corridor. Current estimates put the cost of the KRP in excess of €350m. The number of tracks along the route will be increased from two to four between Cherry Orchard and Hazelhatch, allowing commuter services to run alongside regional services. New stations will be built at Fonthill, Parkwest, Adamstown and Kishoge.
On the other side of the city, the first new train station built in Dublin since 1890 is working at less than half its expected capacity at peak times. The Docklands station, opened on 12 March, currently sees 1,000 passengers during the morning rush-hour. It had been expected to deal with at least 2,500 initially. The temporary station, on the Clonsilla line, cost €20 million and can accommodate 10,000 passengers if necessary. The Clonsilla line still goes into Connolly and this line remains overcrowded. The passenger use is low for the line to the Docklands centre because of its distance from the city centre and the lack of development in the area. The Docklands station will be replaced by a permanent station at Spencer Dock before 2016 as part of the Interconnector Tunnel plan which will see the line connected to Pearse station, and thus the DART, Heuston and the Kildare line.
A spokesman for Iarnród Éireann said that the Docklands station is an investment for the future, unlike other developments which are criticized for lagging behind.