2km Luas tunnel included in Northside extension plans
TRANSPORT bosses are examining if a new Luas Cross City line could be extended across Dublin's Northside as a cheaper alternative to the stalled €3bn Metro North project.
One plan being looked at by the National Transport Authority (NTA) involves the construction of a 2km Luas tunnel that would provide a high-capacity transport link for the northern suburbs including Finglas, Ballymun and Swords.
The proposal raises the prospect that Metro North, which was put on ice because of costs, could be abandoned for good despite more than €165m having been spent on it already.
Possible extensions being examined are along Finglas Road, Ballymun Road or Drumcondra Road and a 2km tunnelled section between Cabra and Ballymun.
A spokeswoman for the NTA said the options were being considered as part of "a thorough cogent study of all scenarios for that region in the future".
The proposals will be contained in a report on options for north-south travel in Dublin up to 2035 that is being prepared for the Government.
The NTA said the existing Metro North plan - which has already secured planning permission - had not been ruled out and that possible variants were also under consideration.
However, Department of Transport officials have cautioned in recent months that the project will need private funding if it is to go ahead.
Other options being studied by the authority include:
• A rail link connecting the Maynooth line with Glasnevin.
• A rail connection from Malahide to Swords.
• An extension of the Dart line from Clongriffin to the airport and on to Swords.
The NTA has already proposed the development of a bus rapid transit (BRT) scheme, branded Swiftway, which could begin in 2017 and link Swords and the airport to the city.
This would involve the use of longer, multi-door, wheelchair-accessible buses with capacity for up to 120 people. These would be given special lanes, separated from other traffic, and have priority at signals and junctions.
However, the authority said Swiftway would be only an interim solution and would not be sufficient to cater for projected transport demand in the longer term.