We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

An artist's impression of the MetroLink station at Charlemont MetroLink

Why Charlemont is the end of the line for the MetroLink - and not Stephen’s Green

Planning experts say changing at this stage would risk (further) major delays to MetroLink and (even) higher costs.

WITH METROLINK ONCE again demanding headlines, a suggestion from a Fianna Fáil TD produced one of the most dramatic. 

“Proposed Charlemont Metrolink station should be axed”, proclaimed the Irish Times. The reporting, based on suggestions from TD Jim O’Callaghan at the MetroLink oral hearing, sparked a wave of national attention.

But why is one station so important in a project which will have 16 stops? The reason is that Charlemont, located by the Grand Canal in Dublin’s south inner city, will be the final stop for the MetroLink and the line’s terminus. 

A terminus requires what officials describe as a “large underground ‘turnback facility’, which means it will need more space than a normal MetroLink station.

O’Callaghan proposed to end the line one stop earlier, at Stephen’s Green.

This change would mean an alteration significant enough that it would open up questions of a major redesign.

Planning experts have warned that redesigning part of the route at this late stage could potentially delay the project by four years, with every year of delay costing €100 – €300 million. 

Jacobs Engineering Group and Idom, two firms which were contracted to lead development of the MetroLink line, produced a study looking at this exact issue - why stop at Charlemont versus Stephen’s Green.

While the full 36 page report is no doubt fun bedtime reading, to give a quick summary of some key points:

  • The Luas Green Line will almost certainly have to be upgraded to a metro in the future because of south Dublin’s growing population.
  • Metro services would be faster and more frequent than the Luas.
  • The Charlemont Luas station and Charlemont MetroLink station will be located close enough that they could be linked together in future, allowing for a relatively easy upgrade of the green line.
  • This would allow metro services all the way from the start of MetroLink (Estuary in north Dublin) to the end of the Luas Green line in Brides Glen.
  • The MetroLink Stephen’s Green station will be separate to the Luas Stephen’s Green station. This was decided so the new MetroLink station will have a minimal impact on Stephen’s Green park.
  • This means if MetroLink terminates at Stephen’s Green and the Luas Green Line was later upgraded to a metro, it would not be directly linked to MetroLink.
  • This means there would not be an uninterrupted metro line running between north and south Dublin. 

That’s the logic for Charlemont.

So why does O’Callaghan think ending the at Stephen’s Green would be better?

The Fianna Fáil TD cited various reasons, including the €650 million cost of the section of the line between the two stops, the fact that he does not think Charlemont is a central enough location for the metro terminus, and the “severely detrimental impact” on the surrounding residential area.

However, speaking to The Journal, the key issue he repeatedly raised was the fact that ending the line at Stephen’s Green rather than Charlemont would make it easier for MetroLink to connect with a future hypothetical metro line from Dublin south west.

“By terminating in Stephen’s Green, we have the option to upgrade the Green Line or go west. But if it goes to Charlemont, the only option (to expand the metro system) is to upgrade the Luas Green Line,” he said.

This view appears to be based on a study published by the NTA in 2021 which looked at extending MetroLink west from Charlemont to Ballycullen near Tallaght. Officials decided the line wouldn’t be used enough due to the areas of “low density housing in the suburbs” it would pass through to justify the cost.


Image from study: pg 11, Fig 4-1

Local groups criticised the study, saying it was not independent and argued that a MetroLink extension instead going south-west from Stephen’s Green would have a bigger catchment area and be more viable.

However, to do this goes back to the problem of a major redesign, delays and higher costs.

It could also cause problems for the Green Line upgrade. To restate the point made earlier – terminating MetroLink at Stephen’s Green would make it harder to link an upgraded Green Line/metro to the rest of MetroLink in a way which would allow seamless metro journeys from Estuary in north Dublin to Brides Glen in the south.

NTA documents and the Jacobs/Idom study summarise why Stephen’s Green was ruled out as the MetroLink end point.

  • It was decided that, “given the sensitive nature of the area”, officials thought it would be harder to build the “large underground turnback facility” needed for the MetroLink terminus.
  • Officials also pointed out that while the Luas is separate to other forms of transport as far as Charlemont, from Charlemont to Stephen’s Green, the Luas shares road space with traffic, making it harder to increase to the speeds needed for a metro upgrade.
  • Walking time between the Luas and future MetroLink stop is estimated at just under 3 minutes at Charlemont, while it’s predicted to be just over 7.5 minutes at Stephen’s Green.

The report also said Charlemont would be an “appropriate location” for any potential future metro extensions to Dublin’s south west or south east “should sufficient demand arise”.

This is something which has been repeated in multiple other documents from officials. 

In a nutshell – the current MetroLink line, which is far advanced, ends at Charlemont. Stephen’s Green was already considered and rejected for a variety of reasons.

Planning experts say changing this would risk (further) major delays to MetroLink and (even) higher costs.

The other main selling point of Charlemont is that it will allow for an upgraded Luas to form an uninterrupted metro line from the start of MetroLink to the end of the Green Line.

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel