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Saturday 17 February 2018

Metro North is back on track with cheaper plan

An aerial view of Dublin city. Inset: An artist's impression of what the new Metro North infrastructure might look like
An aerial view of Dublin city. Inset: An artist's impression of what the new Metro North infrastructure might look like
Joyce Fegan

Joyce Fegan

Plans to develop a metro line out to Dublin airport are back on track – and this time it could only cost €2bn and take just 35 months to complete.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar revealed to The Herald that the National Transport Authority will look at options for a rail system going from the capital out to the airport.

Cormac Rabbitt, a transport engineer and managing director of Metro Dublin, says a rail line can be built in a very short time, with just 12km of underground tunnel needed.

“The National Transport Authority (NTA) will shortly commence a feasibility study to look at all options for a rail corridor from the city centre to Swords and on to the airport,” a spokesperson for Mr Varadkar said.

He added that the NTA, “has said it will look at all existing plans”.

Last February Dublin City Council passed a motion which requests the minister “to undertake substantive engagement with the (Metro Dublin) proposal and engage with it properly”. Mr Rabbitt said Metro Dublin will be a mass rapid transit system for Dublin with a length of 53km, adding 130 million passenger journeys a year.

Users would board at stations in places such as the Docklands, Pearse Street or St Stephen’s Green and be able to reach the airport.

Furthermore it would link up places including Ballymun, Blanchardstown, Cabra, Drumcondra and Clondalkin with employment centres in the city and various business parks.

The project which was put on hold after the financial crash can now be done at a much cheaper price, and Mr Rabbitt says it can be started immediately.

“Like we did in 2000 we again have the people, the finance and programme to pursue a transparent and public competitive project,” he said.

Mr Rabbitt said funding will be sought from the European Investment Bank, with private investors putting up a capital sum.

The project would look for non-capital support from the state, for example, State-owned land along the route would be “capitalised” into the project.

The transport engineer also stated that Metro Dublin would seek sponsorship, in the same way as the Aviva Stadium did.

In terms of green lighting the project, as of March last year, following a European Directive, private companies can apply for planning permission for railway projects.

“Metro Dublin can apply for a Railway Order under the provision of the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006 which in effect means that an Board Pleanala have the final say,” said Mr Rabbitt.

(The Herald)

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