Kildare County Councillor and general election candidate James Lawless has said today’s announcement that the Phoenix Park tunnel is to start upgrade works is positive step.

Councillor Lawless is a daily commuter on the Heuston line from Naas and Sallins station for the past decade and is also founder and spokesperson of the commuter lobby group Naas and Sallins Rail Users Group (NASRUG) which lobbies for rail services.

He commented: “This is a positive step but it is not a panacea. Whilst I will always welcome investment in the railway, the Phoenix Park tunnel is not the holy grail many hold it out to be. It does have the definite benefit of connecting the two major rail routes across the country for the first time in a hundred years. On the flip side it does little to get Kildare line commuters into the south part of the city where most of them want to go. Services using the park tunnel will terminate at Connolly and the journey time is not necessarily better than the current LUAS link option.”

“There are some day to day concerns emerging, with basic concerns like frequency, pricing, service levels will be raised now by ordinary commuters. With the announcement in the offing I queried Irish Rail on planned new timetables and services recently but there is no detail on those at all available. Also for Kildare commuters who currently plan around the journey into Heuston, will these now see a reduction in service?” added Cllr. Lawless.

“Finally it is worth noting that the former Transport21 project has a railway order for the DART underground but this will lapse on the 24th September. This would deliver a comprehensive set of connections across and beyond the city and from the point of view of Kildare line commuters, would deliver them right into the south city business and college district, where most are headed. Whilst that project has a hefty price tag, capital borrowing is currently low on the markets and it would provide am economic stimulus both during and after construction. Indeed I called for this at a recent Transport policy conference.”