North City: Luas tunnel under Glasnevin is 'front-runner' for link to airport

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Glasnevin cemetery

Luas tram.

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thumbnail: Glasnevin cemetery
thumbnail: Luas tram.
By Joyce Fegan

A €1bn Luas extension to the airport via a tunnel under Glasnevin Cemetery is the front-runner project in a list of six new transport options for north Dublin.

A €1bn Luas extension to the airport via a tunnel under Glasnevin Cemetery is the front-runner project in a list of six new transport options for north Dublin.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe launched the North Dublin Transport Study in December, putting six proposals on the table for public consultation.

They included a Bus Rapid Transit option, two Luas and Metro proposals to link the city with the airport as well as a heavy-rail plan to connect the capital with north county Dublin.

A Transport source told the Herald that the Luas line option from Cabra to the Airport, running underneath Glasnevin Cemetery - known as LR3 - is the most "likely" option.

"LR3 was the one mentioned as being likely. Keep in mind this wouldn't necessarily rule out C1," said the source.

C1, costing €1.3bn, is a combination of the Cabra Luas line and a Dart extension from Clongriffin to the airport.

A spokeswoman for Mr Donohoe said that he was waiting on the study to be completed at the end of March before making his office's official opinion known.

Mr Donohoe will not be making a view known in respect of a preferred option until the summer.

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At this time, he will also receive an update on the Dart Underground project.

"He will then consider the options for addressing key public transport deficits in the Greater Dublin Area having regard to the costs and benefits of each project and to available Exchequer funding as well as other possible sources of funds," said the spokeswoman.

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Two other transport options, one a rail link from Maynooth to the airport and the other a Metro proposal from St Stephen's Green to the airport, would cost €2.1bn and €2.86bn respectively.

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Residents and businesses in the north west of the city, in areas around Drumcondra and Glasnevin, were given until January 19 to make submissions on the proposals to the National Transport Authority (NTA).

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One survey carried out by local representatives showed that 96pc of residents in Glasnevin were unaware that one of the NTA proposals would pass under the cemetery. It is understood that a total of 40 submissions have now been made to the transport body.

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Whatever option is selected, many in North Dublin hope that the Metro North plan to link St Stephen's Green with the airport will be salvaged in some form.

About €165m was spent on the original design before the project was stalled in 2011 during the economic downturn - investment that will be lost if some element of it is not chosen.

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"Metro North was clearly a project of its time. That's why I'm so eager to have a process that will look at all of the options afresh," Mr Donohoe said in December.

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The Dart Underground plans that would link Connolly and Hueston stations is also being considered by the Transport Department. The Herald previously revealed how Irish Rail wrote to property owners in Dublin city last April about compulsory purchase orders for the purpose of progress on the Dart Underground.

About 5,000 property owners around the St Stephen's Green area were contacted following a High Court decision that gave the project the green-light under a Railway Order.

However, despite the significant progress last year, the project did not receive funding in this year's Budget.

If the project goes ahead, CIE will permanently acquire the north-west corner of St Stephen's Green and proposes to acquire a significant amount of land below ground level and along King Street South, St Stephen's Green North and down as far as George's Street as part of phase one.