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The long term future of the Howth Branch

If you were building a rapid transit network from scratch in Dublin, it is unlikely that you would build a railway or tram to Howth.

A former island, it is nowadays accessible by road and rail across a low lying isthmus but, with climate change en route, how long will this last?

In addition, there are capacity issues on the DART line north of Connolly Station and therefore, the question is, is there a better way to deal with the Howth Branch?

It would be an interesting exercise to see if a LUAS line could be routed through Drumcondra, Whitehall and Coolock to Howth Junction, with the Howth Branch then being rebuilt as a LUAS line, with appropriate elevation from Sutton east.

Such a route would improve public transport in the Whitehall/Coolock areas and removing the Howth branch from the DART network would free up capacity on the DART line for future expansion to Drogheda.

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The long term future of the DART line south of Sydney Parade

Just as climate change is likely to raise the sea level, putting the railway between Greystones and Wicklow underwater, the same applies to the DART line between Sydney Parade and Dun Laoghaire. In addition, the DART line between Dun Laoghaire and Glenageary is not conducive to higher speeds due to the curvature caused by the decision of the Dublin and Kingstown Railway to not get an Act of Parliament to build the Atmospheric Railway extension to Dalkey, following the route of the pre-existing Dalkey Quarry tramway instead. In addition, the section from Dun Laoghaire to Sandycove is prone to flooding.

With Irish Rail seeking to fundamentally reconstruct the railway network in Dublin through the building of DART interconnector, now would be the time to shout “Stop” and figure out how a DART network absent the line to Bray would look like.

This is not to suggest that rail based transport to the coastal region of south Dublin be abolished. It would be possible to terminate DART services at Grand Canal Dock and have a new LUAS station immediately south of this, being the northern terminus of a new LUAS line along the existing alignment as far as Sydney Parade, before moving inland to the Rock Road and hence south to Dun Laoghaire and beyond. The existing railway alignment could be taken up again at Sandycove – rebuilding the DART line south of there as a LUAS line. The abandoned railway line from Sandycove to Sydney Parade would be an excellent greenway.

At Bray, the new LUAS line could run on an elevated section above the Dargle, ultimately heading west until it met the new Rosslare Line (see previous post) at which point it would terminate with an interchange station.

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The long term future of the Rosslare Line

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 the capacity issues this has led to is causing 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, the longer term plan of regauging the Rosslare line to 4’8 ½” 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.

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Tackling Northern Ireland’s Infrastructure Apartheid

The Slugger O’Toole blog has a two part series covering the infrastructure apartheid in Northern Ireland (basically a Protestant State for a Protestant people concentrating resources east of the River Bann) which is worth reading.

Part 1

Part 2

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General

Trade union calls for metro to be scrapped

along with the pesky BusConnects proposal, both in Dublin.

Of course, what they haven’t stated is that as the Metro will be driverless and BusConnects is predicted to need 40% less drivers than present, these two projects would decimate their membership numbers and therefore, their revenue base.

Methinks it is time for a change in the law regarding trade unions, specifically, requiring a split into dedicated public sector unions* and dedicated private sector unions and never the twain shall meet. In addition, the concept of the State being required to favour all equally or not at all needs to be extended to the former – i.e. public sector unions would be required to be honest in their pronouncements to the effect that they were lobbying solely against reduced public sector number/trade union membership.

* Personally, I would favour banning all public sector trade unions, considering them to be part of the problem and not any part of a solution in a 21st century, 1st world constitutional republic. However, as a defender of the Constitution, I do understand and appreciate the right to associate (and dis-associate) freely. Whilst I am a former public servant (I was an Administrative Officer for 7 years), I did not join the relevant trade union during my employment.

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Flattening the curve

or, in other words (that TPTB would prefer you didn’t say), killing the same number of people over a longer period of time and then some, due to increased domestic abuse, suicides, drug abuse and increased poverty from the economic collapse caused by the civil service decision to shut down the private sector economy whilst keeping their own salaries and pensions intact.

If this offends you, you need to go away and learn how to think.

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Lightly used railways

As part of the mass hysteria around COVID19, a number of lightly used railways in Ireland (e.g. the Ballybrophy to Limerick Line) have been closed “temporarily” (one wonders how temporary these closures will be – CIE has never been one to waste a crisis to close railway lines).

As an alternative method of transport on these lines going forward, I give you this idea from Romania.

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Copper recovery

This is not quite IH, but close enough to merit a mention.

As I am recovering old electrical wires whilst gradually doing up my (1950s) house, I wondered how is the copper recovered from these wires (and those inside WEEE separated electrical equipment).

I searched on Youtube (the home of just about anything!) and, among others, found this video, where an individual recovers the copper from old wire as a one man project, making ingots out of same.

I’m not sure of the economics of it, but judging by his collection (at the end of the video), it is an interesting way to pass the time and retain some metals at the end of it.

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We have a dissenter!

But he is not in Ireland, before the mob forms.

The Guardian reports that a former Supreme Court judge in the UK has criticised the actions of Derbyshire police in using drones to enforce social distancing and has also gone so far as to describe placing the nation under effective house arrest as hysteria, stating:

“Yes, this is serious, and, yes, it’s understandable that people cry out to the government, but the real question is, is this serious enough to warrant putting most of our population into house imprisonment, wrecking our economy for an indefinite period, destroying businesses that honest and hardworking people have taken years to build up, saddling future generations with debt?”