Full steam ahead for Metro North?

by Sylvia Pownall
The on-off Metro North link is back—again—in the Government's latest ambitious big budget framework.

The revised plan for Metro North is good news for north Dublin—but it must be delivered by the 2027 deadline promised in Project Ireland 2040.

That’s the message from frustrated public representatives and businesses in Fingal who’ve been forced to wait more than a decade for a firm commitment.

Fingal Dublin Chamber chief executive Anthony Cooney said the delivery of the long-awaited light rail network, first mooted in 2005, will herald a “new era”.

He added: “Fingal is central to the Dublin economy. The metro will provide easier access in and out of the city.”

Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell says the rail link must be delivered now that there’s a commitment in black and white in the 2040 framework document.

He said: “It is understandable that people might be sceptical given the timeframe over which these projects have been promised. I also find myself frustrated by the ongoing discussion when it hasn’t reached construction stage yet.

“Slippages in the timeframe for delivery of Metro North and DART extension going forward cannot be accepted.”

The revised Metro Link plan provides for a crosscity commute as far as Sandyford. It will have a stop at Dublin Airport and will also link Swords with the Luas and DART.

The €2 billion DART expansion also allows for new stops on the Northern Line from the city to Drogheda which will open up development along the route.

Cllr Darragh Butler (FF), a long-time advocate of the rail network, said it was “great news for Swords” but cautioned: “We have been here before and all that seems to happen with each new announcement is the delivery date gets pushed out.”

Paul Reid, chief executive of Fingal County Council, said the metro was “the most crucial piece of infrastructure needed in Ireland” and he awaited specific timeline details.

He added: “This will be a game-changer for Fingal as it will allow for the sustainable growth of Swords in accordance with our development plan.”

Swords is on target to reach its projected population of 100,000 people and according to the council “strategic development sites” along the metro route could deliver “significant new housing and employment”.

A second €320 million runway and new control tower at Dublin Airport are also being welcomed; however, Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell warns that residents’ “reasonable concerns” must be addressed.

The reaction has been less favourable in Dublin West with Cllr Roderic O’Gorman warning that the omission of Bus Rapid Transit and a new DART station at Pelletstown leaves uncertainty in D15.

He said: “A 2027 completion date is no use to commuters who will live in the thousands of homes currently being built.”

Fianna Fail TD Jack Chambers accused An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of snubbing the “already weak transport infrastructure” in Dublin West.

However, the Taoiseach said a €2 billion investment to upgrade the bus network would see the delivery of a service “akin to a Luas on wheels”.

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