Dublin opens Phoenix Park tunnel to passenger trains

New rail link between capital and midlands but no stop at Heuston

Work has begun to upgrade Dublin's Phoenix Park tunnel to provide a direct rail link for commuters between the midlands and Connolly Station in the south inner city. It should be finished in autumn 2016.

The €13.7m project will allow train passengers coming into Dublin from the south-west to travel further into the city centre than they currently can by rail, providing access to hubs such as the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) and Docklands district.

Until now commuters from large midland towns such as Carlow and Portlaoise took the Kildare line to its terminus at Heuston Station, before hopping on a Luas tram into town. Now commuters from the south-west have the option of taking a separate service direct to the Connolly, located near the central bus station and the IFSC.

The new route will bypass Heuston, veering off through Phoenix Park, and linking to the Maynooth line at Glasnevin. This will allow commuters to loop around the north city to Connolly, and onwards to Pearse station behind Trinity College and Grand Canal station in the Docklands. However Irish Rail has admitted that the new service will not provide a direct link between Heuston and Connolly.

While the service will be convenient for commuters travelling from the southwest into the city centre and vice versa, it will be of no use to those who wish to travel by train directly between Dublin's two largest stations.

The 700-m-long tunnel runs from Heuston Station, under the Phoenix Park, re-emerging near the junction of the Cabra Road and Navan Road. Opened in 1877, the tunnel has rarely been used for commuter services since the 1970s, apart from occasional big sporting events at Croke Park, due to congestion at Connolly Station. Currently it is used for freight and for trains travelling in and out of maintenance depots.