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Dubliners are being promised a 14-stop Metro North link to the airport

The Metro North plan – which was mothballed in 2011 – is back on track. According to Enda.

29/9/2015 Government Capital Plans 2016 Sam Boal Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Joan Burton, with ministers Brendan Howlin and Paschal Donohoe at today's launch at Heuston Station. Sam Boal

THE GOVERNMENT HAS resurrected the Metro North plan to link Dublin city centre with the airport and Swords.

The relaunched project should be finished by 2026, it was announced today as part of the government’s capital investment plan.

The plan isn’t a new one – an older Metro North proposal was shelved by the coalition as it took office in 2011 on cost grounds.

It will cost over €2 billion.

handout1 Ronan Duffy A handout of the stops given to reporters today. Ronan Duffy

What’s the plan?

Some sections close to the city and around the airport will be underground, with other parts of the mooted transport system running on elevated tracks.

The light rail system will run over fourteen new stops between the city centre and ‘Estuary’ to the north of Swords in Co Dublin.

The overall length of the project is 17km.

Here are some of the details announced today:

  • Frequency of up to 30 trams per hour per direction – a tram every two minutes in each direction.
  • Trams will be 60 metres long – twice the size of the current Luas trams.
  • The time from O’Connell Street to the Airport will be 19 minutes.
  • It’s planned it will carry 30 million passengers a year.
  • The cost will be approx €2.4 billion.
  • It will generate over 3,500 jobs during construction, according the government.   

rail Ronan Duffy Ronan Duffy

Haven’t I heard this one before? 

The Metro North was granted planning approval in 2010 but was one of a number of projects mothballed by the Fine Gael-Labour coalition upon taking office, on cost grounds.

Today’s announcement was widely leaked in the last few weeks, with the Irish Times reporting last Wednesday that the government was considering a revised light rail scheme.

As you might imagine the Taoiseach and his ministers faced questions on whether it was all an election ploy, as the project was launched at Heuston Station in Dublin.

“One of the most important words that you have to be able to say as a government that’s serious about the future of the country is to say ‘no’ – because you have to turn down requests from many ministers and many departments and many organisations,” Enda Kenny insisted.

“The money is simply not there.

“We’ve said, we’re not putting Ireland in hock again.

“This is an affordable realistic plan and it’s based on dealing with challenges that people face every day.”

Broad welcome

Fine Gael, Labour and even Sinn Féin politicians in north Dublin have welcomed the plan.

“I remember in the last General Election the Labour Party were criticised for not committing prior to the election to deliver Metro North,” Labour TD Brendan Ryan said.

“We stated that we needed to do a cost benefit analysis before commiting to any large infrastructure projects.

“It was a prudent and responsible approach and one which was contrary to the populist promise-all, deliver-little approach taken by Fianna Fáil.”

Meanwhile Sinn Féin councillor for Ballymun Noeleen Reilly said that after “many false promises” she welcomed the announcement.

“Now what is important is where the stops are, it is vital that the Ballymun stop is in the heart of Ballymun at the plaza which can attract visitors into the area,” Reilly added.

Business group Dublintown said it was “excellent news” for the city.

“We had expressed our preference for investments that would benefit the city in the long term and the announcement today will certainly do that,” CEO Richard Guiney said.

“The new Metro Project provides the capacity required to sustain the city for the 21st century and beyond.”

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