A Dublin TD has called for urgent clarification around plans for the underground MetroLink to Dublin Airport after it was reported the project could now be delayed by seven years.
The Dart Plus electrification of the coastal railway line as far as Balbriggan, and the underground MetroLink from the city centre to Dublin Airport via Swords were due to open by 2027 as part of the National Development Plan 2030.
However it was reported that construction may now not commence until 2027 – meaning Dart Plus man not be ready until 2032, and MetroLink until 2034.
Fingal Labour TD Duncan Smith called for urgent clarification from Transport Minister and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan after the report in the Irish Mail on Sunday.
He said MetroLink was vital to get the economy back up and running after the pandemic while meeting Ireland’s climate reduction targets.
“It would be simply unacceptable if the MetroLink project was delayed until 2034,” Mr Smith said.
"Minister Ryan needs to urgently clarify what the current state of play with the project is. We need this project for the people of north Co Dublin and Swords, and for the whole country.
“An affordable light rail link will not only reduce traffic from Swords to the city centre, but the MetroLink will also allow residents to commute quickly, cheaply and sustainably.”
He said transport emissions only marginally decreased by 0.3pc in the last year during the lockdowns and when people were encouraged to work from home.
"We are still far too dependent on private cars as a principal mode of transport in many parts of the city, particularly in my own constituency of Dublin Fingal where public transport options can be limited,” Mr Smith said.
"I have repeatedly called on Minister Ryan to progress the project and have a business plan in place by 2021. Unfortunately, he has failed to do so.
“As well as the urgent need for sustainable public transport, MetroLink just makes practical sense. There is a massive infrastructure deficit on the M1 Corridor and we’re likely to see traffic return to being bumper to bumper once all workers return to the office.”
He said this has a knock-on effect on bus services.
“On a bad morning, if there is a breakdown or an accident everything on the M1 just grinds to a halt.
"The Metrolink is the best solution to this problem because it will reduce traffic on the roads, while also quickly moving more people to the airport, Mater Hospital, and Dublin city centre.
“The greater need for connectivity between the airport and the city centre has been discussed for years. MetroLink would be of immense benefit to the city as tourists return, easily connecting travellers from the airport to town.
“North Co Dublin has waited long enough. There have been plenty of promises over the years, the time for action is now. Proceeding with MetroLink now, as planned, is of utmost importance to the entire city of Dublin.”
The Dublin Commuter Coalition, which advocates for better services for commuters, said: “No one is going to thank the politician that makes the decision to delay Metrolink.
“Dubliners are unanimous, they want it built.”
Asked about the possible delay, a spokesperson for the Department of Transport said: “Minister Ryan is committed to providing high quality public transport in the greater Dublin area and across the country.
"The revised National Development Plan, including transport projects, is currently being finalised in consultation with Government colleagues and will be published in the coming weeks.”