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MetroLink will impose 'Berlin Wall' through community, say South Dublin locals

The controversial BusConnects and Metrolink plans were discussed in the Oireachtas Transport Committee today.

THE PROPOSED METROLINK has been compared to imposing a “Berlin Wall” in South Dublin, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

Peter Nash, a member of the Rethink Metrolink Dublin South City, said the latest MetroLink proposal is akin to the opening of a “Checkpoint Charlie” on the Berlin Wall.

Outlining the group’s concerns to the transport committee, he said transformation of the current Luas line to a segregated high-speed over-ground Metrolink southwards from Charlemont has “significant adverse social, environmental and commercial consequences for the adjacent neighbourhoods”.

Nash said a segregated high-speed over-ground rail, in effect, creates a clear physical partition within communities.

“In addition, it would also clearly have a significantly adverse impact on the many houses in the neighbourhood that are adjacent to the line,” he said.

Impact on local communities

This will directly impact the local communities at not one but five separate locations in the area – Dunville Avenue at Beechwood Stop, Cowper Drive at Cowper Stop, a smaller Luas crossing between these stops at the western end of Albany Road, and two crossings 160 metres apart at Milltown stop /Alexandra College/Richmond Avenue South, he added.

The committee was told that traffic volumes on the remaining key Charleston Avenue link route between Rathmines and Ranelagh will increase hugely with knock-on impacts on traffic back to Rathmines and forward to Ranelagh.

The consultation process has been dubbed as “inadequate” by the locals, who added that the lack of engagement is concerning.

Denis Kinsella from the same local group said residents are supportive of capital investment, as the area has benefited greatly from the Luas upgrade.

However, speaking about the plans to close Dunville Avenue in Ranelagh, and removing the level crossing to segregate the MetroLink from traffic is fundamentally wrong, he said.

He said tearing up the section of the Luas to introduce a driverless hyperlink in a densely populated area is not suitable, but if the National Transport Authority (NTA) goes ahead, the line must go underground.

However, a letter to Labour senator Kevin Humphreys from the NTA states it does not plan to move the rail line underground.

Kinsella added that there will be “commuter chaos” when the Luas is “put out of action” when the Metrolink line is being constructed.

BusConnects

BusConnects – the radical redesign for the Dublin Bus route network – was also up for discussion today at committee.

Anne Graham, CEO of the NTA, said the new plan will be “vastly beneficial for the greater dublin area”.

However, she did admit that some people will have to change buses to get to their destination. She said this measure will ensure people will be able to get to their destination in shorter overall trip time.

File photo THE NATIONAL TRANSPORT Authority is in the middle of redesigning Dublin’s bus network, and has released the proposed new routes today. The network is being redesigned in an attempt to make bus routes simpler for tourists to understand and mor Source: Sam Boal

The planned change, which if all goes to plan would take effect in 2020, would entirely transform the network, replacing many of the numbers with letters, and adding orbital routes so that people can avoid the city centre if they’re travelling across Dublin.

The theory behind it is that you may have to change your bus on the way into town, but by prioritising the key “spines”, it should actually get you into town faster.

A number of TDs at the committee said passengers moving from one bus to another and having to wait for another bus is not satisfactory to many commuters.

TD Joan Collins said having passengers disembark from a bus will result in “huge queues” waiting for the next bus and will have a big impact on people, particularly those with disabilities and older people.

“By its nature there has to be trade-offs… the vast majority will gain from these proposals and let more people get to more places sooner,” said the NTA boss.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) said the change to the network, is “wrong”, adding that it “isolates rather than connects” passengers.

The union said bus users will be severely discommoded, and said the new plans will possibly result in many additional car journeys accompanied by chronic congestion.

Head of the union, Dermot O’Leary, said changes to the bus network will affect those in disadvantaged areas most, while those living in affluent areas will not be overly impacted.

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