THE first work contracts for the controversial multi-billion euro Metro North railway will be signed in the coming weeks.
The Railway Procurement Agency said 2010 had been "a significant year" for the plan to deliver a 16.5km-long light rail system between St Stephen's Green to Estuary, in Swords.
The Department of Transport has confirmed that the construction of Metro North has been allowed for in the National Recovery Plan, it said.
"RPA has completed the tender process for the first enabling works contracts and is ready to sign contracts for these in the New Year," the RPA said.
It said it was committed to delivering "a first-class transit system" for the people of Dublin.
The RPA said it was confident it could deliver the project safely, "and be a good neighbour" during the works.
"Building Metro North is a challenging project but together we can transform Dublin from a city which is difficult to get around to one where all retail areas, sporting and entertainment venues, educational institutions, transport interchanges and employment districts are accessible to all," the RPA said.
In October, An Bord Pleanala approved the Metro North Railway Order.
RPA now has permission to build the line, which will serve 14 stops.
Work is due to start on the line in March "subject to funding".
The selected route will include two park-and-ride facilities and will interchange with the Luas and Dart, the project planners say.
It will run to the Mater Hospital, Dublin City University, Ballymun, Dublin Airport and Swords.
The system will be designed to run every two minutes at its peak, with the capacity to move 20,000 people in each direction per hour and carry 34 million passengers a year.
The net benefit to the Irish economy will be more than €1bn, the RPA says.
When completed it will bring passengers from the city centre to Dublin Airport in less than 20 minutes and to Swords in less than 30 minutes.