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How Ballymun Metro stop would have looked. RPA

Whatever happened to the (original) Metro North?

Not the new one.

FOR PEOPLE OF a certain age, it feels like the announcement that Dublin is getting a Metro system comes along every couple of years.

Again, this week, the plan was back on.

The 14-stop, €2 billion light rail line will bring commuters from Dublin to the airport in 19 minutes.

But, haven’t we been here before?

Cast your mind back to the year 2005.  In November a decade ago, the Fianna Fáil government announced Transport 21.

PastedImage-33598 RollingNews RollingNews

A hugely ambitious capital expenditure plan, Transport 21 promised an array of public transport investments around Ireland and the capital.

Central to the plan was the Metro, a plan first suggested in 2001.

RPALuasMetro / YouTube

Envisaged to carry commuters from Dublin’s outlying suburbs into the city, Metro would have linked with Iarnród Eireann services and have a stop at Dublin Airport.

In short, it was going to be an integrated public transport system befitting a modern European capital.

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

Work actually got underway on building the 16.5 kilometre North line, which would have gone from St Stephen’s Green to the airport and Swords, via DCU and Ballymun.

Procurement began in 2007 and two consortiums were named as preferred bidders to build the line.

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.

PastedImage-50134 Then Transport Minister Martin Cullen speaking in Government Buildings at the announcment of the new Dublin Metro North.

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.

However, in 2010, it was announced the system wouldn’t be ready until 2019 at the earliest, before Leo Varadkar suspended the plan in 2011.

€200 million had been spent on the plan and not a single passenger moved.

Back and forth

From 2011 to this week, the plan was mooted, knocked back, mooted again and knocked back again in a seemingly endless cycle.

It was raised again in a National Transport Authority Review last year before Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe announced a shortlist of project options across Fingal and North Dublin, which included the Metro plan.


The new plan, announced this week, will cost over €2 billion and be open in 11 years. It will be two minutes slower than the original plan at 19 minutes from city to airport.

The new plan has been broadly welcomed by politicians and business groups.

Transport 21

And what of the rest of Transport 21?

Well, the programme had set out plans for a number of projects.

Here’s how they went:

St. Stephen’s Green to Luas Red Line: Set to open in 2017
Luas extensions to Brides Glen, Point Depot and Saggart: All open
Luas to Bray: Under review.
Luas to Lucan: Deferred
Kildare Route rail upgrade: Opened in 2010
Dart Underground: Under review
Docklands station: Open
Clonsilla to Navan line: Partially finished, Navan line deferred
Midleton to Mallow line: Opened
Western Rail Corridor: Ennis to Athenry opened, Athenry to Tuam, Tuam to Claremorris deferred.

Read: Poll: Will Metro North happen?

Read: Whatever happened to the plans to link Dublin Airport and Dublin city?

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