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Wednesday 27 September 2023 Dublin: 15°C
Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland
# On The Rails
Whatever happened to the plans to link Dublin Airport and Dublin city?
It’s a bus or a taxi for you. But why?

IF YOU’VE FLOWN into Dublin Airport recently, you may have found yourself wondering why your options out are limited to the ground.

Taxi, buses and private cars are generally the only way to get from the country’s main airport and the capital city.

Though the airport is served by almost 700 buses and hundreds of taxis daily, the lack of a rail link is noticeable.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, however.

In the last decade, there was actually a competition to supply a rail link to the airport.

Both have been postponed, ostensibly due to a lack of funding, but a National Transport Authority review of the entire north Dublin area that is due to get underway could put the issue back in the spotlight.

The two leading options are Metro North and the Dart extension.

Metro North

As part of the overall Metro system, the North plan would have seen the airport and city just 20 minutes apart – a Godsend for anyone who has navigated their way through Drumcondra on their way to catch a flight.

Metro is still technically planned (albeit having been suspended in 2011), but its omission from a 2013 National Transport Authority report on public transport in the capital means that if not buried, the plan is on life-support.

Phase 1 was due to be delivered in 2010, with the very last phase, linking Blanchardstown to Ballymun due to be ready this month.

In 2010, it was announced the system wouldn’t be ready until 2019 at the earliest, before Leo Varadkar suspended the plan in 2011. It was indicated earlier this year, again by Varadkar, that the plan would be part of the NTA review.

RPALuasMetro / YouTube

The Rail Procurement Agency (RPA) hoped the line would carry 35 million passengers a year, help create 37,000 jobs and take 120 million kilometres of car journeys off the roads.

A stop would have been placed within walking distance of both terminals in the airport and trains would have arrived every two minutes.

It was slated to cost €2.5 billion, or €138 million per kilometre of track.

Dart extension


Íarnród Éireann say their plan would be cheaper, less disruptive and more beneficial to the country.

They want to take the existing Dart line and construct a “spur” at Clongriffin. From there, the line would go into a station built beside the airport’s church.

The rail company says that the project could see a significant increase in passengers on the DART system and that fare revenue would cover operating costs, meaning no operational subsidy required.

They also argue that if it, and the also postponed Dart Underground, were built, passengers could get trains directly from Cork, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick and Waterford to Dublin Airport.

A spokesperson told that the company remains committed to the plan, saying that its implementation would make Ireland compliant with EU law.

They are hopeful that the NTA will recommend their plan, which would see trains leaving every 15 minutes.

A local councillor last year said that residents would prefer the Metro plan.

Dublin Airport

A Dublin Airport Authority spokesperson says that they have safeguarded the site for a station, but they have no preference on which option is picked.

They point out that the road links to the airport, and the provision of parking, are of a high level.

Read: Jetpacks, plane cars and the Metro – why are we still on the bus?

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