'Delays in starting Metro North costing jobs and investment'
Delays in starting the construction of a Metro North rail service for Dublin has led business leaders to strongly criticise the Government.
The lack of a rapid rail link between Dublin Airport and the north of the city centre is costing jobs and much-needed investment, Dublin Chamber of Commerce has warned.
It has called on the Government to ensure Metro North is delivered as soon as possible.
Transport Minister Shane Ross last week said work will not begin until 2021, with the project scheduled to open to passengers in 2026.
The chamber said a direct rail link to the airport is one of the key pieces of infrastructure companies are looking for when considering relocating to Ireland.
Mary Rose Burke, chief executive of the chamber, said Metro North is urgently needed to address ever-worsening congestion in Dublin.
"We've been talking about Metro North for far too long," she said.
"Starting work on Metro North would send a signal to the people and businesses of Dublin - and also workers and companies looking to locate here in light of Brexit - that Ireland is serious about addressing the current infrastructure deficits that threaten to stifle growth,
"Conservative estimates suggest congestion in the Greater Dublin Area will cost the Irish economy more than €2bn per annum by 2033.
"The lack of a rail link between the city and the airport makes an underwhelming impression upon business travellers and potential foreign investors," she added.
Fingal was the fastest growing county in Ireland in the five years to 2016, when its population grew by more than 22,000.
"A new rail link is needed not only to serve Dublin Airport, but also to cater for more than 40,000 additional people who will be commuting into the city centre from north Co Dublin within the next six years," said Ms Burke.
"Passenger numbers through Dublin Airport are expected to exceed 36 million by 2022, up from 28 million last year. A new rail link will go a long way to supporting such strong growth."
The chamber also called for the forthcoming 10-year Capital Plan to clarify when work will begin on the Dart Underground project - an 8.6km tunnel from Inchicore to East Wall, linking with Pearse Street and Heuston stations.