New national hub to manage trains could benefit Laois commuters
A €135 million train and road management hub is likely to mean improvements for Dublin bound road and rail commuters from Laois, Kildare and other Leinster counties but it will be another six years before the centre is operational.
It is claimed that the new National Train Control Centre at Heuston Station will see commuters and other Irish Rail train users getting improved train performance, better customer information services and travel time savings.
The centre could also benefit motorists who commute to the capital as it will house garda and local authority traffic management for Dublin in the complex. There are also plans that it could have a regional traffic management remit when opened.
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross has announced Government approval of a new centre claiming it will enable the planned expansion of rail services in the coming years.
Minister Ross's Department says the new centre, which is estimated as costing €135 million, will be located at Heuston Station and facilitate the co-location of Dublin City Council’s traffic control centre and An Garda Síochána’s metropolitan area traffic unit on the one site.
The Department says the new facility will replace the existing Central Traffic Control centre based at Connolly Station which will be repurposed as a back-up facility as part of the project. The existing centre is at capacity and its computer systems are approaching obsolescence.
The Department says the new National Train Control Centre will enable of expanded rail services in the years ahead and will benefit passengers through improved train performance, better customer information services and will deliver travel time savings through the new traffic management system.
However, people will have to wait a few more years. It is planned that the construction of the facility will be completed by the end of 2021.
Fit-out and commissioning of the ICT systems will then commence by Iarnród Éireann, An Garda Síochána and Dublin City Council. It is anticipated that the design, development, fabrication, installation, testing and commissioning and safety approvals for the main system at Heuston will be completed in 2024, with the development of the back-up centre following.
The Department says the new centre will underpin both the planned and potential future expansion of rail services across the entire rail network and, in particular, will facilitate the planned expansion of DART services under the DART Expansion Programme. The project is being funded through existing allocations made available under Project Ireland 2040 and it is expected that the project will cost €135million.
Development of the new centre complements the increased funding already being made available to support an enhanced maintenance and renewal programme delivering improvements in track, signalling and communications infrastructure across the network.
Minister Ross is delighted that Government has approved what he said is a hugely significant project.
"This is a real statement of intent from Government as we set out to massively expand rail services in the coming years and look to encourage more people to make the switch to sustainable mobility.”
Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority, welcomed the announcement.
“This is an exciting time as far as investment in public transport is concerned. Under the Climate Action Plan, there is a commitment to reduce CO2 emissions in the transport sector by 45-50%. A critical element of this is to ensure that our public transport services can meet the demands placed on them as we seek to provide an alternative to the car. The National Train Control Centre is a key piece of infrastructure from that point of view.
"In addition to housing the NTCC, it is also proposed that other control centres will be co-located there too. This includes An Garda Síochána's Dublin Traffic Control Centre and, at a future point, a regional traffic control centre, as part of an integrated facility,” she said.
Jim Meade, CEO of Iarnród Éireann, said the centre will make public transport more popular.
“As we are set to transform the capacity of our rail services through the DART Expansion programme under Project Ireland 2040, not only will we deliver new, energy-efficient trains and an enhanced infrastructure for greater frequency of services, the National Train Control Centre will also ensure that this expanded rail service and any future expansions operate efficiently, and with improved customer information and punctuality.
"This will strengthen the appeal of rail services and public transport generally, as we seek to address the challenges of mobility, congestion and climate change for this and future generations”
The Government has approved funding for the project which is scheduled to commence construction later this year. The project will be delivered by Iarnród Éireann and overseen by the National Transport Authority with funding provided as part of Project Ireland 2040.
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