We know Irish Rail would prefer to be shot of the railway to Rosslare, cutting it back to Gorey or even Arklow, but that is not the subject of this post.
We know that the decision to build a LUAS line along the Harcourt Street line, rather than a heavy rail operation, was a mistake as this is causing capacity issues.
We know there is the potential for climate change and with it, rising sea levels. This latter will cast significant doubt about the future of the railway between Greystones and Wicklow Town and further north, between Bray and Killiney and from Dun Laoghaire into Dublin city.
We also know that the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) has a housing shortage and one county in the GDA that has refused to play a significant part in the provision of housing close to Dublin is Wicklow.
Taking all of these together, it is time for some blue sky thinking and I would like to advocate a brand new railway from Rathnew, Co. Wicklow, to around Carrickmines, Co. Dublin.
This would allow for the abandonment of the existing coastal railway from Wicklow Town to Greystones and the rerouting of the Rosslare mainline service to a new terminus at Grand Parade in Dublin.
Whether this line would be 5’3″ (requiring gradual closing of the existing LUAS line from the southern end up as it gets regauged) or, a longer term plan of regauging the Rosslare line to 4’8½” is a matter for discussion. Longer term, the latter is probably more sensible.
The time to consider such a plan is now as with Metrolink due to terminate at Charlemont, rather than continue along the Harcourt Street line, an opportunity to plan afresh exists.
In addition, through the use of SDZs, the new line heading south from Carrickmines could be tied in with planning permission for new housing in Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown and Wicklow Counties, thereby part financing the line and being an act of sensible planning.