Saturday 22 October 2016

Metro plan back on track as Dart project derailed

An artist's image of an underground Dart station
An artist's image of an underground Dart station

A CHEAPER version of the abandoned metro system running between Dublin city centre and the airport and Swords is now being considered by the Government.

The original plan, which would have seen a metro run from St Stephen’s Green, was shelved on cost grounds a number of years ago.

But a revised system has now been proposed to Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe by the National Transport Authority (NTA) following a review of the transport requirements for Fingal and north Dublin.

A final decision on the issue is due next week as part of the capital plan.


The new metro would follow a similar route to the one proposed in the original plan, and the vehicles used would be similar to Luas trams but longer, allowing greater capacity.

Meanwhile, the Dart Underground plan has been scrapped in favour of a scaled-down redesign, despite the investment of €47m in the project already.

The design, originally envisaged as a twin 7.5km-route about 25 metres below the city streets, will be re-drawn.

Almost €120m of compulsory land purchases – which were due to be made to facilitate the tunnel – will not now go ahead pending the re-design.

The Transport Minister announced that the project was being dropped, but added that the expansion of the Dart lines to Balbriggan in north Dublin and Hazelhatch in Kildare would proceed and were expected to be completed by 2022.

A spokesman for Irish Rail insisted that not all of the money invested in the Dart Underground project was wasted.

“It’s absolutely not a waste of money, the funding will be going towards a redesign of the project,” he said.

The NTA said the project “wasn’t scrapped” and that it was “very much part of the future plans for the city”.

Mr Donohoe said the €3bn Dart Underground project, which was conceived more than a decade ago, was being dropped to ensure “cost-effectiveness” for the taxpayer.

Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy slammed the announcement, describing it as “short-sighted”.

“Surely the urgency of a decent transport infrastructure for an international capital city and its environs should be prioritised?” she said.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said the Government had “no vision for the future of our city”, and added that the decision to down-scale the project will have a “huge social, economic as well environmental cost”.

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