A €25 billion plan for the development of transport infrastructure in the greater Dublin area over the next 20 years, including Metrolink and new Luas lines, has been published by the National Transport Authority (NTA).
A year since public consultation on the NTA’s draft Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area was completed, the agency has produced the final plan which will outline transport investment in the capital and surrounding counties up to 2042.
The new plan aligns closely with the draft, published in November 2021 which drew criticism from a number of quarters for the lack of urgency in its timelines for the implementation of major rail projects.
Schemes including four Luas lines, to Finglas, Lucan, Poolbeg and Bray, as well as the Metrolink and Navan rail lines were not scheduled for delivery until sometime between 2031 and 2042 with the long-promised Dart underground excluded from the 20-year programme.
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A planning application for the Metrolink line from Swords and Dublin Airport to the city was submitted to An Bord Pleanála last September, but the draft strategy suggested that instead of a future extension of the line to the south or southwest, these areas should be served by Luas lines, but not until after 2042.
While planning and design work for these potential Luas routes to Tallaght/Kimmage, Tallaght/Knocklyon and UCD/ Sandyford as well as lines to Clongriffin, Balgriffin, Tyrellstown, Blanchardstown and Clondalkin is expected to be undertaken during the lifetime of the strategy, their construction is not anticipated until after the term of the strategy.
The Dart underground line, shelved a decade ago following the economic crash, which would link Heuston Station to the Dart line by tunnelling under the city via St Stephen’s Green, is also not due for development within the lifetime of the plan, although the NTA committed to “preserve and protect an alignment to allow its future delivery”.
The final plan does include some revision of these timelines, with the Metrolink and three of the Luas lines, to Finglas, Lucan and Bray, as well as the Navan line, now included as medium-term projects for delivery between 2031-2036. The Poolbeg line is now on a long-term list for completion between 2037-2042. The additional Luas routes, still not due for delivery until after 2042, and the Dart Underground, would undergo planning and design during the 2037-2042 phase.
There is also a suggestion that additional metro lines may be considered in future reviews of the transport strategy, which is updated every six years, “including previously considered options to extend Metrolink southwards towards UCD, or along the existing Luas Green Line, or towards South West Dublin” the strategy states.
While the central focus of the strategy is the expansion of rail, it also sets out proposals for improving bus provision, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, as well as the road network.
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan described the strategy as “a really significant plan for the country’s capital and the surrounding counties”. When delivered it would “bring back the sort of comprehensive rail network we had at the start of the last century – but it will be cleaner, faster and better value for money” he said.