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City to get six new Luas lines under ?20bn transport plan

A ?20bn public transport plan that will introduce six new Luas routes in Dublin will be officially announced by the Government next month.

The unprecedented 10-year plan, details of which have been seen by the Irish Independent, will also include the development of a metro system linking Dublin airport with the city centre.

The plan will have three major components targeting Dublin, the commuter regions serving the capital, and the rest of the country with a particular focus on the Border Midlands and Western (BMW) region.

Up to six new Luas routes will form the basis of the scheme with the light rail system criss-crossing Dublin, providing more services to commuters in outlying areas of the city.

The Luas system will be upgraded to link the existing red and green lines between St Stephen's Green and O'Connell Street.

An extension of the Sandyford line to Cherrywood at Loughlinstown to serve areas like Glencairn, the Gallops, Ballyogan Woods, Leopardstown Racecourse and Carrickmines will be developed.

The Tallaght line will be extended to Citywest, Clondalkin, and Lucan. A brand new service in the docklands with an extension from Connolly Station to the docks is also believed to form part of the plan.

The Irish Independent has learned that the Government and the Rail Procurement Agency (RPA) are in the process of securing deals with private developers to ensure they contribute to meeting the cost of the extensions.

It is also expected that new 40-foot Luas trams will be introduced to increase capacity on the system.

Under the plan, the M50 will be finished to complete the ring around Dublin city. And the eastern bypass - which is seen as the final segment in this project - will link the port tunnel to the M50.

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A metro system to link Dublin airport with the city centre will start at Swords to serve the town's growing population.

It is understood that the plan is being developed to work in tandem with the National Spatial Strategy which is intent on balancing development throughout the regions.

The plan also contains proposals for an 'inter-connector' rail line, which would travel under the River Liffey to link Heuston Station with Connolly Station via Westland Row Dart station.

This would act as a link between all modes of transport in the city, allowing commuters to access Luas, Dart, inter-city rail links, and Dublin Bus. Details are more sketchy for proposals at a national level, but it is thought the plan includes a focus on completing all the road links between Dublin and major cities with a focus on the BMW region.

The plan will be launched by Transport Minister Martin Cullen later this year.

"What I and the Government are now in a position to do is bring forward an ambitious, integrated plan for developing all elements of our transport infrastructure," he said.

"The plan which we will publish will not be a collection of disjointed projects with no connecting logic. The timescale and resources made available by Government has allowed us to take an integrated approach to infrastructure planning," he said.

"The objective is to achieve a high quality transport system in tune with the economic and social needs not of today but of the decades ahead," Mr Cullen said.

The minister said that within the capital city and its hinterland, the provision of more roads was not the solution to transport needs.

"A high quality, high capacity transport infrastructure which will eradicate existing congestion and cater for further rapid population growth must rely on public transport," he said.

"Implementation of this plan will have a major and positive impact not only on economic activity but also on the attractions of the city as a place to live and to work."

The new 10-year transport plan to be unveiled by the Government proposes:

� Up to six new Luas routes.

� Linking the existing red and green lines between St Stephen's Green and O'Connell Street.

� Extension of the Sandyford line to Cherrywood (serving Glencairn, the Gallops, Ballyogan Woods, Leopardstown Racecourse, and Carrickmines).

� Extension of the Tallaght line into Citywest.

� Extension of the Tallaght line to Clondalkin.

� New service in Docklands (extension from Connolly Station to docks)

� A Metro system linking Swords with the City Centre via Dublin airport.

� Completion of the M50 to form a complete ring around Dublin city.

� Infrastructual road links between Dublin and major cities, to be completed with focus on Border, Midlands and Western region.

� Inter-connector rail line linking Heuston Station with Connolly Station via Westland Row Dart station under the River Liffey.

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