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Irish Railway News  - Journal 157

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Navan-Dublin commuting by road has grown significantly in recent years with very bad traffic congestion and poor journey times. There is a campaign to re-open the line all the way to Navan in conjunction with an upgrade of main roads. Campaigners claim that the line will save €36m to the region annually in terms of reduced traffic congestion and pollution, reduction in lorry movements and new opportunities for sustainable growth and pay for itself in ten years. They suggest there would be 'a huge return from freight carriage'.

In February, the feasibility study into re-opening the section from Clonsilla to a new Park+Ride station at  the  proposed  M3  motor-way interchange in the townland of Pace beyond Dunboyne was published. The study was undertaken by IÉ with the support of Meath and Fingal County Councils and the Dublin Transportation Office (DTO).

Following closure in 1963, the land and buildings were sold. The overbridges were transferred into the ownership of the relevant county councils. The alignment is still largely intact although heavily overgrown.

The DTO Platform for Change Report September 2000, included the Clonsilla to Navan in its recommended strategy and proposed a two-phased opening – Clonsilla to Dunboyne initially and then Dunboyne to Navan. The Strategic Rail Review (Booz, Allen, Hamilton 2003) examined the feasibility for re-opening the entire route from Clonsilla to Navan and concluded that there was no economic case for re-opening the entire line to Navan. They did not consider the section between Clonsilla and Dunboyne as a discrete project. In October 2003, Meath County Council commiss-ioned Farrell Grant Sparks to undertake a pre-feasibility study of the Clonsilla-Navan line and they recommended that a detailed feasibility study should be undertaken for the section between Clonsilla and the M3 Interchange.

The proposed line is 7.5km in length. Three stations are proposed at Hansfield, Dunboyne and the major Park+Ride station at the M3 Interchange. A 15-minute peak hour service is proposed, with a thirty minute off peak service.

The population of Dunboyne is forecast to grow from 5,300 to 10,000 by 2011. Hansfield, at 1.2km from Clonsilla, is to grow to 7,000. The population within a 10km zone around the potential catchment corridor of the Pace P+R could grow to 150,000 by 2011. The DTO estimates hourly boarding by 2016 at:





M3 Park+Ride                       





The study identified capacity constraints on the existing rail network as a major problem and noted ‘The capacity of the city centre corridor (Connolly-Pearse) is at its limit and without a resolution no additional services, including this proposed service from M3 Interchange at Pace, would be feasible. The resolution of this issue is outside the scope of this project but will be a determining factor on if and when the project could proceed’.

At Dunboyne, the station building is now a private residence. A surface water and sewer pipe has been laid along the rail route beside Millfarm housing estate in Dunboyne. These will require relocation. The Millfarm housing estate encroaches on the old track alignment, which will force the alignment to slew eastwards, causing additional earthworks.

A surface water/hydrology study was commissioned by IÉ. This was deemed necessary because of the risk of flooding in the area between Dunboyne and Pace and due to its close proximity to the Tolka River . This risk can be satisfactorily managed by the incorporation of appropriately sized bridge crossings and maintaining the vertical alignment of the track above the predicted 100-year flood level. Over the distance from north of Millfarm to the M3 Interchange Park+Ride station the track will rise to a level in the order of 1.6 metres above existing ground level:

The following structures are required.

- A new steel girder superstructure placed over the Royal Canal , bearing on new piled found-ations with the existing abutments retained.

- 3 existing overbridges carrying Regional and County roads over the railway. Each is a single-course stone arch structure generally of good condition. The parapet walls require strengthening and increasing in height to current standards. The approach embankments require upgrading.

- 3 structures are required across rivers. These could be either a single span bridge or a seri-es of adjacent box culverts, with the waterway area dictated by the hydrological study.

- Approximately 6 culverts have been identified as required by the hydrological study. Some culverts exist and require assessment as to their suitability to accommodate the new railway whilst others are new.

- Bridges or culverts are required for third party accommodation works including an underpass for the canal towpath along with a new culvert or bridge to carry the access road to the Park + Ride car park.

- 2 bridges currently spanning over the proposed rail alignment require demolition, both are single-course stone arch structures. One bridge is a redundant farm accommodation crossing in poor state of repair whilst the other is a listed structure carrying the existing R149 over the railway. This demolition is necessary to accommodate raised track levels required to ensure the track is above predicted flood levels.

Three options regarding track configuration were evaluated:

1.    Double track from Clonsilla to Pace

2.    Double track from Clonsilla to Hansfield and single track to Pace with a passing loop at Dunboyne

3.    Double track from Clonsilla to Hansfield and single track to Pace

The following criteria were considered - safety, track capacity, reliability, maintenance, future proofing, costs and journey time. Option 1 was chosen as the preferred option. ‘This allows for a robust and reliable service, which does not eliminate the ability of a further extension in the future. Safety and future maintenance were also considerations that lead to this decision. The scheme allows for ease of connection to the Maynooth line at Clonsilla Station and sufficient allowance for the turning and holding of trains at Pace’.

The study notes that the ‘location of the toll plaza [on the M3] 2-km before the Pace interchange exit is unfortunate as it may discourage prospective rail passengers who will not exit the motorway and use the Park + Ride facility after paying the motorway toll’.

Twenty-four diesel railcar vehicles costing €2m per vehicle (including VAT) will be required for the new service.


In February, the Cork County Manager told County Councillors that he was happy with progress on re-opening the Glounthaune-Midleton line. The engineering feasibility study was almost complete. This will establish detailed re-laying costs. It will be followed by a public consultation period and then the application for a Railway Order. He told Councillors that the line will be opened by 2008. Significant housing development is taking place along the line and was a key factor in the decision to re-open the line.

The remainder of this article appears in IRRS Journal number 157, published June 2005.

Copyright © 2005 by Irish Railway Record Society Limited
Revised: November 06, 2015

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