Fear of delay for MetroLink and Dart+ as An Bord Pleanála takes 37 months to approve “relatively straightforward” level crossing removals

An Bord Pleanála taking 37 months to approve a “relatively straightforward” level crossing removal project on the Cork-Dublin train line near Buttevant and Charleville raises concerns about the planning system’s ability to deal with rail projects in a timely manner, a rail user’s group has said.

IMAGE: Map showing the level crossings (image: Irish Rail).

The application for a Railway Order was submitted in May 2021, and the project has just gained planning approval. The project’s page and documents have yet to be updated on An Bord Pleanála’s website.

The project mainly consists of closing a number of legacy manual level crossings and replacing most of them with new bridges or, in some cases, detours to nearby existing overbridges. In one case, it also includes retaining and upgrading an existing level crossing. 

The project is located in rural areas along a 24km mainline track in north Co Cork and just into Co Limerick with the crossings located at Fantstown, Thomastown, Ballyhay, Newtown, Ballycoskery, Shinanagh and Buttevant.

The project should help increase safety and reduce travel times between Cork, Kerry, and the rest of the country.

Once finished, there will be only a handful of level crossings between Dublin’s Heuston Station and Cork Kent. The remainder will primarily be automated level crossings, which are substantially safer than manual level crossings.

Mark Gleeson, a spokesperson for Rail Users Ireland, said: “RUI welcomes An Bord Pleanála’s decision on the Cork Line level crossings project. This project will eliminate multiple level crossings, allowing for enhanced safety and higher speeds in the future, benefiting rail passengers on the important and busy Cork-Dublin line.”

“Over 37 months passed from submission of the draft order until approval for what is a relatively straightforward project,” he said.

He added: “This raises concern as to the ability of An Bord Pleanála to handle cases in a timely fashion, the outcome of both Dart+ West and MetroLink are still pending, and further applications are awaited. Each day of delay is a day more that the public does not have the benefit of these programs, and, naturally, as time passes, the cost of each project increases.”


  1. What a joke Ireland is can’t build any badly needed infrastructure, the usual stupid delays, takes 50 years to even begin to start a project, North Korea has better Infrastructure


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