Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Not possible for Dart closures to be postponed for Leinster Champions Cup semi-final, Irish Rail says

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The closure for upgrades to the Dart line from Grand Canal Dock to Bray will mean many of the Leinster fans will have to find alternative transport to the city centre to be part of the 82,000-strong crowd due to attend the match.

The line closure will see 13 stations closed, and Irish Rail has said postponement of the works are not possible as it is necessary for essential maintenance and was organised last December before the Leinster game was known about.

A spokesman said the closure is necessary for the installation of a train protection system as well as the replacement of some overhead power lines and sections of track over the May Bank Holiday weekend.

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He said that contractors, some of whom are coming from abroad, have already been booked and cancellation of the work was not possible as a result. He also said that cancellation would cost in the region of €500,000.

Spokesman Barry Kenny said other public transport services such as buses and Luas services will be increased. “There will be significant enhanced capacity across the bus services and Luas servicers as well to meet that demand,” he said.

“There will also be extra Darts from Howth to Grand Canal Dock, and extra Maynooth and Drogheda trains which directly serve Croke Park. There is a significant amount of resources committed to these works,” he added.

Minister of State for European Affairs, Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, said the closure of the Dart line is just one of many that are having a big impact on sport and tourism, and urged Irish Rail to come up with a different way to schedule its works.

“There were closures of the southside line on February 3, 4 and 5, and again on February 17 and 18, and in March there was works on the 29, 30, 31 and into April 1, and now there are the closures scheduled for the May Bank Holiday.

“These all make a huge difference to businesses in places like Dalkey, which is a designated tourism area, and trade has already suffered with the bad weather as well,” she told the Irish Independent.

“On match days people living along the Dart line depend on it. If the works were an absolute one-off people might not mind as much, but it’s a constant feature of bank holidays now, and I’ve asked Irish Rail is there another way of scheduling these works.

“I know it’s hard for Irish Rail, and it is a measure of how much we rely on the Dart service that it needs upgrading. And I know they are trying to avoid disrupting commuters and schools on weekdays, but maybe the work could be a little more broken up, and maybe an odd Monday when a lot of people work from home could be used instead of a bank holiday weekend,” she added.

Deputy Carroll MacNeill said Dart trains are always packed with Leinster supporters on match days, and she uses the train herself with her family to travel to games.

“Another consideration is the many Leinster fans who travel from Wexford and Wicklow and catch the Dart in Greystones to travel to matches,” she explained.

Labour Councillor for the Pembroke area, Dermot Lacey, questioned why the works could not be adapted to enable people to travel either side of the game.

“Their job is to provide public transport, and on a day where there will be increased numbers it seems to me there is an obligation to provide a public service, but I’m not sure if the public service bodies care. The decision makers should be held accountable,” he said.

Tickets for the game sold out within hours of going on sale at 10am on Friday, April 19, with many of the fans planning in travelling by train.

Leinster play most of their home games at the RDS but would typically host games at the Aviva Stadium to facilitate larger crowds. However, the Aviva Stadium is closed while preparations are made for the final of the UEFA Europa League on May 22.

Last week, Leinster announced they will play the majority of their home fixtures at the Aviva Stadium next year while a €50m reconstruction project gets underway at the RDS.

Further Leinster home matches will also take place at Croke Park next season.

Their upcoming Champions Cup semi-final will be the first rugby match held at GAA HQ since 2009.

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