Frances Gallagher’s first job 30 years ago was doing admin in Sandyford, far across the city from where she lived, and still lives, in Ballyfermot.
She would hop on the bus on Ballyfermot Road but it wasn’t a direct route to her workplace, she says. “It was taking me anywhere between 3 or 4 hours.”
She felt pushed into buying a car, though she hadn’t necessarily wanted to. “It was so I could get to work in less than an hour.”
These days she works closer to home, as an administrator in Ballyfermot – and it is her son who commutes out of the area, to Churchtown.
“They’ve done exactly the same thing 30 years later,” she says.
He would rely on buses that were unreliable, she says. “He started driving so he could leave the house at half eight in the morning.”
Ballyfermot Road is served by a few bus routes into town, and one route towards the east of the city – although the routes are due to change with the advent of the BusConnects plan rejigging the city’s bus network.
Three train tracks also run under a bridge on Kylemore Road in Ballyfermot, where the Intercity heads west across the country.
Provisional plans from last year for the DART+ South West route show a fourth track added to this route, for an electrified train to go from Heuston Station and Glasnevin in the city as far as Hazelhatch on the border of Kildare.
Residents would like to see trains stop at Kylemore, they say, an idea that has been mooted in the past but that appears to have disappeared from Irish Rail’s plans.
Sometime in the Future
The DART+ (expansion) is a programme of DART improvements in the Greater Dublin Area, which aims to increase the capacity and frequency of the trains, and decrease emissions from road congestion.
RPS Engineers have been contracted to design options for the emerging preferred options for the plans, due to be released in two months.
Kylemore station is “not being delivered under the DART+ programme”, said Mark Conroy, environment and railway order manager for the DART+ programme within Irish Rail, in December last year at a meeting of councillors in Dublin’s South Central Area.
At the meeting, Conroy said that spatial provisions will be made at Kylemore for a future station to be delivered.
An individual planning application would need to be made for a station at a later date, he said during the presentation to councillors.
Feljin Jose, the public relations officer for the Dublin Commuter Coalition, called the proposed station at Kylemore “a mystery”.
In the DART Expansion Options Assessment Report, a station at Kylemore was included as part of the full expansion, and in thetender for DART+ South West design consultants, Kylemore station was included as a possible element of the works.
For Jose, there is no certainty that there will be a station at Kylemore. “We might regret not building that station now.”
Rejection of building Kylemore station is part of a wider conversation about how this area interacts with the Heuston rail line. “As it stands, they don’t. The rail line and the community exist separately,” said Jose.
To Gallagher, a station at Kylemore would be welcome. “If they used the existing rail network, and put mini buses on that would serve the estates, that would make more sense.”
Not building the Kylemore DART station could undermine other transport expansion happening elsewhere in the city though, said Jose.
“Without any stations between Park West and Heuston, other DART, Metrolink and Luas services will remain inaccessible to people in the south west of the city,” said Jose.
To Be Developed
“It would just be fantastic. It is such a densely populated area, and it’s prone for huge redevelopment,” said Vincent Jackson, an independent councillor.
On the Old Naas Road, a developer has permission to build 1,102 rental homes on the former Royal Liver Assurance Retail Park, around the corner from the proposed Kylemore station.
“I always thought it was very strange that the railway ran through Ballyfermot, but it didn’t have a stop,” says Emma Faye, who has lived in Ballyfermot for 21 years.
Originally, there was not an Intercity stop at Kylemore, due to the braking distance of diesel trains and opposition from the local area, said Jackson, the councillor.
But, says Faye, “it would just make life so much easier for people.”
“There’s a lot of people in the area with special needs, and trains would be much more accessible than some of the buses,” she says. Buses were also not accessible to her when she had two children in a buggy, she says.
Dylan Henvey, who lives around Chapelizod Hill Road, has commuted on either the 66, or the 40, to the IFSC since 2010.
“You can’t forget what it was like before the lockdown,” he said of getting stuck in so much traffic that it could take him up to an hour to get to work. “There just wasn’t a second option really.”
The DART+ line to Heuston, linking with the Luas red line, would make his commute much easier, he said. “At the moment, it’s only the bus. Why would we not? The train line doesn’t serve the majority of the area.”
Says Gallagher: “Without a doubt, people would be delighted if that happened. We already have a rail network here, why not use that?”
A public consultation on the DART+ South West will be published in two months or so, says Jane Cregan, events and PR manager for Iarnród Éireann.
“A final decision hasn’t been made. It’s only the first round of public consultation,” she said, and after that, there will be a second round.
The criteria used to decide which stations will be included in what is released to the public. That’s “a very detailed process”, said Cregan.