herald

Wednesday 19 December 2018

€2.5bn Metro North plan looks doomed as airport Dart project speeds up

METRO North is unlikely to get off the ground as the Government looks set to extend Dart services to Dublin Airport instead.

Despite having already received permission from An Bord Pleanala, it appears that plans for Metro North could be scrapped by the new Cabinet.

The €2.5bn cost of the project has emerged as an insurmountable stumbling block.

Estimates have put the cost of a Dart line to Dublin Airport at just €300m.

An Bord Pleanala ruled last October that the Metro scheme, linking St Stephen's Green to Swords, could go ahead. The project was described as the biggest in the history of the State.

However, the Government has asked Iarnrod Eireann to update its proposal for a Dart airport link, a project that was first put forward two decades ago.

FLYOVER

An Bord Pleanala gave permission for an underground Metro track from St Stephen's Green to north of Ballymun where it would cross the M50 on a flyover.

It would go underground at Dublin Airport, stopping at a centralised transport hub before going overground again to Swords.

But reports today reveal that the Dart airport link would run from the airport every 15 minutes from 5am to 1am.

It would take about 20 minutes to get into the city centre. A station would be constructed next to the airport terminals.

Passengers numbers have been estimated at 10,000 a day, while a park-and-ride facility would allow commuters from Swords to use the service.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has said just one of three major capital projects would go ahead.

These are the Dart Underground, Metro North and the link-up of the two Luas lines, called BXD, with the Dart airport link now being added to the mix.

It comes only weeks after Dublin North TD James Reilly revealed he would be lobbying hard around the Cabinet table for Metro North.

The Minister for Health had also indicated he would be joined in his efforts by Mr Varadkar.

COMPETITIVE

Mr Reilly had said: “(Metro North) fits in very well in terms of creating jobs and providing infrastructure to ensure we remain competitive.”

Businesses and residents in Dublin North have been calling for construction on the highspeed rail link to begin.

Despite the funding concerns, economic studies carried out by the Railway Procurement Agency show that for every €1 spent on the Metro there would be €2 back in terms of overall economic benefit.

Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar today launched a new expanded commuter bus service from Swords to Dublin city centre.

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