IARNRóD éIREANN announced on May 12 that it was starting work on the ambitious plan to build a cross-city suburban rail tunnel under the heart of Dublin.

Bids have been invited from consultants to assist with detailed design of the 5·2 km Interconnector, which will run from the Heuston terminus to the Docklands station now under construction. Intermediate stations are envisaged at High Street, St Stephen's Green and Pearse, where interchange will be provided with the existing north-south DART corridor. The new line will connect to the Howth line north of Docklands.

Under the government's Transport 21 package (RG 12.05 p753), IE expects to quadruple the capacity of Dublin's suburban network from 25 to 100 million passengers/year. Services would be reconfigured to give two high-capacity corridors. Line 1 would run from Maynooth and Pace in the northwest to Bray and Greystones using the existing DART elevated cross-city link. Line 2 would connect Howth and Balbriggan in the northeast with Hazelhatch in the southwest using the Interconnector.

Under the Integrated Rail Plan, Docklands station is expected to open in 2007, initially serving the Maynooth route. This will provide capacity for contruction of the Clonsilla - Dunboyne - Pace branch in 2009 and its extension to Navan by 2015. Four-tracking of the Heuston - Kildare line as far as Hazelhatch is to be completed by 2010, and the Connolly - Pearse line will be resignalled in 2009 to raise capacity. n