Tánaiste pledges MetroLink won’t be derailed

by Rose Barrett
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By Rose Barrett

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD assured members of the Dáil on Tuesday evening last that there was no significant delays or changes in the National Development Plan (NDP) with regard to Metro North and Dart Plus.

The Tánaiste assured the attendance that MetroLink had not been de-railed and stated he was not aware of any government decision to delay these projects. At least four questions were raised with the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, TD from Deputies Alan Farrell, Duncan Smyth, Dessie Ellis and Louise O’Reilly, following media speculation last weekend that the completion of MetroLink was pushed back from 2027 to 2034.

Deputy Alan Farrell for Fingal was among four TDs who raised parliamentary questions on Tuesday evening last in the Dáil following recent media speculation that changes in the National Development Plan (NDP) would see the completion of MetroLink and Dart Plus pushed back to 2034.

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Deputies Louise O’Reilly, Duncan Smyth and Dessie Ellis joined Deputy Farrell in calling for clarification from the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan. TD.

On behalf of Minister Ryan, a spokesperson from his press office stated: “MetroLink is likely considered the largest ever public investment project in the history of the state.  This programme faces two imminent and important milestones in the coming months which will determine the progress of MetroLink in the coming years.

“Firstly, there is government’s approval at Decision Gate 1 of the Public Spending Code, to permit the project enter the planning system. Secondly, finalization of the extensive documentation required lodging a Railway Order application to An Bord Pleanála (ABP).

“Work is ongoing in relation to both these with substantial progress expected in coming months, with the Railway Order application likely to be finalised by Q1 2022.”

Therefore, the construction start date for MetroLink will ultimately be determined by successful receipt of planning permission from ABP, before securing formal government approval to proceed to construction under Decision Gate 3 of the Public Spending Code.

But, the Minister’s office noted: “There has been no decision to defer the construction start date.”

Deputy Farrell welcomed the assurances from the Tánaiste and Minster for Transport:  “Metro Link is vital for the future of our community. We are among the fastest growing populations in the country, and the necessity of providing a modern transport network cannot be understated.

“As a representative of Dublin Fingal, any significant delay in the delivery of this project is unacceptable to me.

“Not only will this key transport network assist us in reducing our transport emissions, it will further provide much-needed connections between Dublin city, Dublin airport and Swords.

“Transport Infrastructure Ireland has indicated as recently as two weeks ago that additional months will be required for Metrolink, prior to proceeding to the planning phase of this project.”

The first rail plans to connect with Dublin airport were voiced in the 1970s. Repeated economic recessions saw the proposals side tracked before plans were suspended in 2011.  However, plans were brought back to the drawing board in 2015, as part of the NDP. From there, it has gone through extensive consultation and planning processes, preferred routes, etc.         

However, it is the Minister’s intention that construction will commence within the lifetime of this government, noting the requirement for planning permission and the necessary government approvals as stated above.

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