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Dart Underground and Metro North spared the axe in spending cuts

METRO North and the Dart Underground are to get the green light today, despite major cuts to capital projects.

The two schemes are expected to be funded in spite of a multi-billion euro reduction in the Government's spending on capital investment.

Plans for the future building of nearly €39bn worth of roads, schools and hospitals have been described as the "stimulus" the economy needs, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said today.

However, not everybody will be happy as a number of key initiatives are likely to be dropped as a result of our "new situation".

The infrastructure project worst affected will be in rural areas, with funding for roads and rail projects cut.


The Government has opted to prioritise projects that will provide the most jobs.

Metro North alone is expected to cost the Government in the region of €5bn, while Dart Underground will be around €2.5bn.

The Metro will operate from St Stephen's Green, via Dublin Airport, to Belinstown, north of Swords, taking around 35 million passengers every year.

Plans to link up the Green and Red Luas lines are also expected to get the go-ahead.

There has been some uncertainly about the Luas projects, but the Dublin Chamber of Commerce has warned that unless the Luas extensions are constructed at the same time as the Metro and Dart Underground, the capital could face an eight-year construction period.

On the other side, previously announced spending on a rail link between Dublin and Navan faces the chop, as does funding that was planned for the third phase of the Western Rail Corridor between Sligo and Limerick.

Spending on healthcare infrastructure could be badly hit, but the relocation of the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) to a new campus at Grangegorman is still on the agenda.

This will allow for the sale of the up to 10 different premises currently used by the college in the city.

The Taoiseach is to announce the exact details of the €39bn spending at the official opening of the National Convention Centre in Dublin today, where he will be shadowed by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan and Green Party leader John Gormley.

The money will be allocated up to 2016 and Mr Cowen says it is "an investment in the future of Irish people".

"I believe this is exactly the type of stimulus that the economy needs to help rebuild confidence and accelerate economic recovery.

"It will not only greatly improve the lives of our citizens, it will help to create jobs now and to sustain jobs for the future," he said.

"We have seen the benefits of the investment of recent years and we believe it is essential to maintain that momentum for the coming years."

Mr Cowen said that because of the country's "new situation" the Government has "refocused our priorities".