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FactCheck: Was there a plan to close the Luas Green Line for up to four years to construct the Metrolink?

The Minister for Transport was among those to make the claim.


Updated: 30 April

This FactCheck originally carried the verdict ‘TRUE’ – this has been changed to Mostly TRUE. For changes, see our Corrections page

EARLIER THIS WEEK, the National Transport Authority (NTA) unveiled plans for a new ‘preferred route’ for the Metrolink project.

Perhaps the biggest change to the project was the proposal that the route will no longer continue south of the Charlemont Luas stop in Dublin.

The announcement had been widely expected, following reports that upgrading the Luas Green Line would have majorly disrupted services along its route.

That followed suggestions that the NTA would alter its original plans to move the Metro underground, in order to avoid disruption to communities in Ranelagh in south Dublin.

Estimates for how long the suspension of Luas Green Line services would last varied, with Minister for Transport Shane Ross among those to suggest that the service would be disrupted for years.

Last month, the Minister claimed that the closure of the Luas Green Line was “off the agenda”, and said that trams would have been suspended on the line for up to four years.

But was the Minister’s estimate accurate? Was there a proposal to close the Luas Green Line for up to four years to construct the Metrolink?

The Claim

Concerns over the suspension of Luas Green Line services to facilitate the construction of the Metrolink arose after plans for the line were published last March.

Residents in Ranelagh – near the proposed Charlemont and Beechwood stops – were unhappy about proposals to close a through-road from Dunville Avenue to Beechwood Road.

They expressed concerns about the impact of the proposal to upgrade the Green Line to metro standard after the public consultation phase for the project ended.

While those concerns initially focused on the impact of the closure of Dunville Avenue on local communities, the emphasis soon switched to the closure of the Green Line.

Dunville The proposed station at Beechwood, located where Dunville Avenue meets Beechwood Road Source: National Transport Authority

According to the public consultation document for the newly published ‘preferred route’ proposals, the Rethink Metrolink group claimed that the closure of the line would cause “commuter chaos”.

“45,000 daily commuters will lose the Luas service for between 9 and 24 months during construction,” the group said. 

At an Oireachtas hearing in July, Peter Nash of Rethink Metrolink – a local group – claimed the closure of the through-road would create a partition in local communities akin to “Checkpoint Charlie” at the Berlin Wall.

Two solutions to resolve the issue were subsequently proffered.

One was to construct a rail bridge over the road; the other involved a ‘cut and cover’ plan, which would have seen the Metrolink moved underground instead. 

However, it emerged that those plans would have caused the Luas Green Line to be disconnected, potentially disrupting service for a number of years.

Last month, Minister for Transport Shane Ross held talks with the National Transport Authority to warn against doing this.

Briefing reporters on the issue, he said that a two- or four-year disruption to the Luas Green Line would be unacceptable, and that he would “not countenance that sort of delay”.

Ross later reiterated his comments in an interview with RTÉ News, saying that closing “an artery into a major city for four years is completely and utterly unacceptable”.

Metrolink preferred The new Metrolink route, published on Tuesday, which stops at Charlemont in Ranelagh Source: National Transport Authority

The evidence

A suggestion that Luas Green Line services would be suspended to facilitate the construction of the Metrolink were first made when the initial plans were published last March.

An appraisal report by Transport Infrastructure Ireland noted that a section of the line between Ranelagh and Charlemont would have to be closed for three months.

It read:

During the construction stage (estimated to be three months), services on the existing Luas Green Line will be severed with inbound passengers disembarking at Ranelagh Stop and proceeding on foot to Charlemont Stop to continue their journey.
Outbound passengers will be similarly affected during construction.

Estimates of a four-year closure later emerged after the public consultation process, when the National Transport Authority suggested moving the line underground in Ranelagh to avoid disruption to local residents.

However, the figure is not mentioned in the new Metrolink plans, published on Tuesday.

TheJournal.ie asked the National Transport Authority, the Department of Transport, and Transport Infrastructure Ireland to clarify where the figure came from.

A spokesman for the National Transport Authority said the authority was “happy to stand over” the figure.

“It was included in a report that we commissioned, which concluded that the proposed project that went under Beechwood would add significantly to the Green Line disruption,” he said.

“It found that period of disruption would be between two and four years.”

The spokesman added that the report hasn’t been made publicly available yet, but would soon be published on the authority’s website.

A spokesman for Transport Infrastructure Ireland referenced the same report, and also said the agency would stand over the figure.

“If you were to continue tunneling, you’d have to disconnect the entire system,” the spokesman said. “By doing that, you’d be severing the Green line entirely.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport could not be reached for comment.

However, on 10 April the National Transport Authority released the report into the closure of the Green Line, which was carried out by the engineering and consultancy firms Jacobs and IDOM.

It found that extended closures of the Green line would be required for the construction of the Metrolink portal, to construct a new underground Metrolink station at Beechwood, and to upgrade the line as far as Sandyford to facilitate the new light rail system.

However, rather than leading to the closure of the Green Line for four years entirely, these works would be completed in sections, meaning some parts of the line would remain open while others were closed.

Metrolink closures Source: National Transport Authority

During the first stage, the line would be closed from Ranelagh to Beechwood for two years and six months.

The second stage, taking place after this, would see the line closed from Ranelagh to Cowper for eight months, and then the entire line from Ranelagh to Sandyford for a month after this.

However, the new Beechwood station would reopen after that month, and the line would be closed from Beechwood to Sandyford for another eight months.

After that, the Metrolink would begin operating.

Overall, the entire Green Line from Ranelagh to Sandyford would be closed for just one month, while all closures along the line would last for three years and 11 months – just shy of four years.


The claim made by the Minister for Transport was that the Metrolink would close “an artery into a major city [the Luas Green Line] for four years”.

As described above, this claim was not in the original plans for the Metrolink, published in March 2018, when it was suggested that part of the line would have to close for up to three months.

However, a public consultation into those plans raised concerns about the impact those plans would have on the local community in Ranelagh, and the National Transport Authority suggested moving the line underground to mitigate this instead.

The authority, along with Transport Infrastructure Ireland, told TheJournal.ie in March that an as-yet unpublished report found that the plan to divert the Metrolink underground would mean closing the Luas Green Line for up to four years.

However, the report revealed that the closures would last just short of four years, and would happen in sections, rather than along the whole line at once.

As a result, we rate this claim: Mostly TRUE.

As per our verdict guide, this means the claim is accurate, but is missing significant details or context. Or, the best available evidence weighs in favour of the claim.

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here.

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