Is the slow train finally on a fast track to Swords
The Minister for Public Expenditure has strongly hinted that extra capital spending funds in the Government's coffers will be spent on delivery Metro North up to two years ahead of its current expected arrival time of 2026 or 2027.
At a press conference held to announce a review of the Government's Capital Programme, Minister Paschal Donohoe said that Metro North was a 'leading example' of what the extra funds could be spent on.
Preparing for Brexit will inform what the extra capital funds are spent on and Metro North is considered to have advantages in that regard, speeding up the link between the two huge economic drivers that are Dublin's city centre and Dublin Airport.
Minister Donohoe made the point at the press conference, that Dublin Airport is sixth busiest airport in Europe, but it is also one of the few large airports in Europe that does not have a direct rail link to the city centre.
The Capital Plan published in September 2015, set out Exchequer capital spending of €27 billion and, including the wider semi-state sector and PPPs, total state-backed capital investment of €42 billion, which crucially for Fingal and Swords in particular, included putting the then stalled Metro North project back on the agenda.
Announcing the review of the plan, Minister Donohoe said: 'The Capital Plan is now being reviewed to ensure that capital spending is fully aligned with national economic and social priorities, consistent with Programme for Partnership Government objectives'.
He added: 'A key goal for the review is to focus available capital resources on investment that can best underpin sustainable economic growth and social progress and enhance Ireland's future growth potential.'
Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan added: 'Delivering quality infrastructure is crucial to ensuring social cohesion and improving our economic productivity in the years ahead.'
While a firm commitment on fast-tracking the Metro North project must wait for the end of this review process, both ministers made positive noises about the project's prospects for a an earlier than expected delivery. It should not be forgotten however, that the project is already well behind its original schedule after being shelved for several years while the country worked its way through recession. The people of Swords and Fingal will be hoping that this time, the slow train that is Metro North is finally on a fast track to delivery.