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Planning permission for Dublin's Metrolink connecting Swords to Dublin Airport set to be lodged in September

Passengers in the arrivals hall of Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Cate McCurry, PA

Planning permission for Dublin’s MetroLink, linking Swords to Dublin Airport to the city centre, is set to be lodged this September.

The project is set to cost in the region of 9.5 billion euro and take up to 12 years to complete, which would see it running by the early 2030s.

The plan was rubberstamped by the Cabinet, paving the way for the city’s new public transport infrastructure, the first of its kind in Ireland.

It will consist of a fully segregated railway, most of which will be underground, running from north of Swords to Charlemont in the south of Dublin city centre.

The route will include 16 stations and serve multiple residential communities such as Swords, Ballymun and Glasnevin, as well as the city centre, Dublin Airport, and major employment, education, transport and other centres.

When operations commence, there will be trains every three minutes during peak periods, according to Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan.

This could rise to a service every 90 seconds by 2060 with the system capable of carrying up to 20,000 passengers per hour in each direction.

For comparison, Luas Green Line can carry approximately 9,000 passengers per direction per hour.

Mr Ryan brought the MetroLink Preliminary Business Case to Cabinet on Monday.

Planning submission on the public transport “megaproject” will be lodged this September, and forms part of the Government’s National Development Plan.

A metro for Dublin has been in development in various forms for more than two decades.

Ireland remains one of only a small number of countries in Europe without a metro in its biggest city or a rail connection to its main international airport.

Mr Ryan said: “MetroLink is a once in a generation project that is going to massively transform the public transport system in our capital city.

“This project in various guises has been on the table now for two decades, but the Government’s decision on the MetroLink Preliminary Business Case marks a significant milestone.

“Now this exciting transport megaproject starts to become a reality. We are giving the green light to a transport system that will be integral to the city and the country’s sustainable development in this century, and into the next.

“MetroLink is hardwired to our climate ambitions.

“It will provide over one billion carbon neutral, fully electrified, passenger trips by 2050.

“Over 175,000 people and 250,000 jobs will be accessible to the stations by foot alone.

“By interchanging with other public transport systems such as DART and Luas, MetroLink connects to more than a million people in the Dublin area, and more across Ireland.

“The project will improve the quality of the urban environment and people’s lives, as well as enable the development of more well-connected homes in and around our capital city.

“It will contribute to a shift from the private car to more sustainable travel, helping to decarbonise the transport sector in line with Government policy.”

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath said: “There is widespread agreement as to the importance of progressing the MetroLink project as a means of connecting communities, businesses, transport hubs and education settings across Dublin.

“Our task now is to ensure that the scheme progresses in a timely manner with protecting the interests of the taxpayer as a central tenet of the project.

“My department has developed a suite of oversight measures, including the External Assurance Process to allow for independent scrutiny of public projects at key decision-making stages and the Major Projects Advisory Group which provides further scrutiny of external reviews.

“These processes will be essential to the efficient delivery of this vital piece of national infrastructure.”

The chief executive of the National Transport Authority, Anne Graham, said: “Today is an important day for Irish public transport.

“MetroLink is about providing a frequent, reliable, sustainable alternative as part of an integrated system, so that we can encourage more people to get out of their cars and on to public transport.”

The chief executive of Transport Infrastructure Ireland, Peter Walsh, said: “MetroLink will provide an efficient service, with an end-to-end journey time of only 25 minutes, as part of an integrated public transport system.

“We look forward to bringing this project to An Bord Pleanala in September.”

Approximately three quarters of the 9.5 billion euro cost during the construction phase will be paid for by the exchequer and one quarter financed by a public private partnership (PPP).

A more exact cost will be known following planning permission and procurement process, the department said.

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