Dublin–Navan railway line

Dublin to Navan line
Type Commuter rail, Suburban rail
System Iarnród Éireann
Status Operational
Locale Ireland
Termini Docklands
M3 Parkway
Stations 10
Opened 3 September 2010
Owner Iarnród Éireann
Operator(s) Iarnród Éireann
Character Secondary
Rolling stock 29000 Class
22000 Class
Line length 64 km
Number of tracks Double track
Track gauge 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in) Irish gauge
Electrification Not electrified
Route map

Dublin to Navan Line

DART Line 2
↑ to Hazelhatch
to Howth
Docklands(Luas Spencer Dock)

Left arrow to Dundalk • to Dublin Connolly Right arrow
Phoenix Park Tunnel
to Dublin Heuston

Royal Canal
Dublin Broadstone 1937
Liffey Junction 1937
Navan Road Parkway

M50 motorway
to Sligo

Royal Canal
M3 Parkway
Phase 1
Phase 2
Batterstown 1947
Drumree 1947
Dunshaughlin future
Kilmessan Junction 1947
Kilmessan future
River Boyne
Trim 1947
Athboy 1947
Bective 1947
Navan Central future
to Drogheda
Navan Junction 1958
Tara Mine
to Oldcastle
Navan North future
Gibbstown 1947
Wilkinstown 1947
Nobber 1947
Kilmainham Wood 1947
Gypsum Industries 2001
Kingscourt 2001

The Dublin-Navan line (via Clonsilla) is a commuter railway line between Dublin and the town of Navan in County Meath. Since September 2010, train services operate from Docklands Station to M3 Parkway. They do not reach Navan as of yet.


Navan was originally a significant part of the expanding rail network in Ireland. The Dublin and Drogheda Railway first constructed a branch from the Dublin-Belfast main line through Navan to the town of Oldcastle which opened in 1850. In 1862, the Dublin and Meath Railway constructed and operated a branch from Clonsilla to Navan off the MGWR main line to Sligo. This line was extended to Kingscourt in County Cavan in 1865, operated by the Navan and Kingscourt Railway. Both of these lines were eventually purchased by the MGWR, while the Oldcastle line was eventually incorporated into the GNR(I). Navan railway station itself was a small single platform stop on the Oldcastle line.[1] The main station for the town was Navan Junction, which had four platforms serving trains on both routes.[2]

In the 1950s and 1960s, there was a large scale rationalisation of the railway network in Ireland, which saw Córas Iompair Éireann close large sections of line. Passenger services on the Kingscourt line were ended in 1947, while on the Oldcastle line they continued until 1958. The lines from Clonsilla and Oldcastle to Navan was lifted in 1963, with the remainder remaining open for freight use following the withdrawal of passenger services - the Gypsum Industries plant in Kingscourt utilised the line as far as Navan Junction before transferring to the Oldcastle line to transport gypsum to the Plantin Cement works just outside Drogheda, while the Tara Mine also uses the Oldcastle branch to transport lead and zinc. Following industrial action by Iarnród Éireann train drivers in 2001, Gypsum freight services from Kingscourt were transferred to road haulage, which led to the remainder of the line being mothballed. The line has been preserved however, with the then Minister for Public Enterprise, Mary O'Rourke TD, ordering Iarnród Éireann not to 'lift' the railway line, as it may be used in the future.


The growth of the economy in County Meath, added to the increase in the population of Navan,[3] has led to calls over the past few years for a rail service to be reinstated from Dublin.

As part of the Transport 21 plan announced by the Irish Government in 2005, the line to Navan would be rebuilt in two phases as a branch of the Western Commuter line. The first phase would see a 7.5 km stretch from the junction west of Clonsilla. This would feature three new railway stations at Hansfield, Dunboyne and park and ride interchange called M3 Parkway. This became operational in September 2010.[4]


The second phase is planned to be completed by 2030, but is currently deferred. It will see the line extended from M3 Parkway to Navan itself, with further stations at Dunshaughlin, Kilmessan and two in Navan.

The implementation of the proposal is hampered by the existence of the privately owned M3, tolled at two points, and capacity constraints on the Great Northern line into Dublin. Dublin Connolly is operating at the limit of its capacity and is allegedly unable to take the extra services envisaged by the Navan line. As a consequence of planning decisions, as part of the wider rail plan (which also involves changes to the DART system), a new railway terminus in the Docklands area of Dublin was constructed. Docklands currently serves as the terminus for services on the Western Commuter originating from M3 Parkway.[5] The proposal would have seen this station expanded to become the main terminus for Western Commuter services, including from Navan, as well as a stop for planned DART services through the DART Underground. However, in 2007, Iarnród Éireann announced plans to restore rail services to the long closed Dublin Broadstone station - it was this that IÉ planned to use as its major terminus for commuter services from Mullingar and Navan.[6]

However, in March 2008, the transport minister blocked these proposals in favour of utilising Broadstone for the Luas system, instead encouraging IÉ to seek planning permission to keep Docklands in place as the terminus for the Navan line, as well as services from Maynooth and Kildare.[7] As part of the wider improvements to the commuter network around Dublin, the line will be electrified as far as M3 Parkway and will form part of the planned DART Line 1.


Drogheda to Navan Line
All passenger service beyond
Drogheda withdrawn in 1958.
to Dublin
to Belfast


Cement Works
River Boyne
to Clonsilla
Navan Junction
to Kingscourt
Tara Mine
Virginia Road

Although the proposal to reinstate a rail service between Dublin and Navan has been welcomed, particularly in view of the comparison of cost with the M3 motorway (estimated to be €650 million against €90 million for the railway[8]), there has been criticism over the details of the proposal. The pressure group Rail Users Ireland (formerly Platform 11) have estimated the cost of restoring this route for passenger trains at €64 million.[9] Their proposal would see the relaying of the line to standards necessary for passenger trains, the installation of two new stations at Duleek as a park and ride and Navan (Navan East), together with the reopening of Navan station.

Criticism has also been levelled at Meath County Council. Rail Users Ireland have pointed out that part of the rail alignment planned to Navan has been obstructed by the installation of a sewer main,[10] while there is indication that Meath County Council have also not ensured the protection of the route sufficiently.[11]

Various groups have also pointed out that, given the two phase approach to implementing the plan, there will be little benefit to residents of Navan until the line is extended there, due to the planned positioning of the toll collection points at Pace/M3. In addition to the planned station being 30 kilometres (19 mi) from Navan itself, the toll point is positioned before drivers reach the station.[12]


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