Metro line to UCD should be considered - Varadkar

New MetroLink line will terminate at Charlemont north of Ranelagh following pressure

Computer-generated image of what MetroLink arriving at Swords could look like

Computer-generated image of what MetroLink arriving at Swords could look like

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he would be open to running the MetroLink rail line to UCD and Sandyford, following the decision to shelve the proposed southside route of the line.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) on Tuesday confirmed the metro, which had been due to run from Swords to Sandyford, will terminate at Charlemont north of Ranelagh, where it meets the Luas Green line.

Last March, the NTA announced plans for the line which would connect Dublin Airport to the city by rail, with the construction of new track from Swords to Charlemont, and an upgrade of the Luas Green line between Charlemont and Sandyford.

However, following interventions from senior politicians, including Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy, the route will stop at Charlemont to avoid disruption of the Green line. Minister for Transport Shane Ross last month said he would “not countenance” significant disruption to the Luas line.

The NTA said it will tunnel past the Charlemont stop to allow the conversion of the Luas to metro “to occur at an appropriate point in the future” but the upgrade would not be required “for some time - perhaps 20 years or so”.

However, in response to questions from Green Party leader Eamon Ryan following the NTA announcement, Mr Varadkar said there was “common sense” in Mr Ryan’s proposal to extend the line to UCD and Sandyford, instead of stopping it at Charlemont.

“UCD and Sandyford might make sense,” Mr Varadkar said. “I think we should be open to considering that but I would not like that to hold up the project.”

Extending the line to Sandyford “solves the long-term problem of the Luas green line, so there is common sense in that, in my view,” he said.

The NTA said it plans to run 30 trams an hour, in each direction, on the Green line by 2028, to address the capacity issues, following the decision not to go ahead with the metro to Sandyford.

In relation to Mr Varadkar’s comments, it said any such proposals could be considered as part of the review, at the end of next year, of the transport strategy for the Greater Dublin Area. That review is expected to take place after the MetroLink application has been submitted.

The new route will see a station construction site in Glasnevin moved from lands owned by Na Fianna GAA club on St Mobhi Road to an adjacent training pitch belonging to Home Farm Football Club, following complaints by the GAA which were backed by Mr Varadkar. A tunnel boring machine, due to enter the ground at this site, will be moved to Ballymun.

The NTA today the Home Farm station would be “more compact” than previously planned which would reduce the construction time from seven years to three years. There will be “no impact” on the Na Fianna pitches it said.

The revised route will also see reduced disruption to traffic in the city centre, the NTA said. The proposed station at St Stephen’s Green will be moved slightly south and west to avoid the closure of Hume Street and St Stephen’s Green East during construction. However, St Stephen’s Green park itself “will be impacted to a small extent as a result”.

At O’Connell Street the proposed station will be moved to underneath the old Carlton cinema and the vacant plot beside it, where a shopping centre is planned stretching from O’Connell Street to Moore Street. The previous station location in the middle of the street, “would have presented a significant challenge to Luas services, bus services, and vehicular traffic on O’Connell Street” the NTA said.

However, the NTA still plans to go ahead with plans to demolish the College Gate apartment block and Markievicz leisure centre on Townsend Street to facilitate an underground station at Tara Street.

It said it did investigate alternatives, including locating the station under the Hawkins House development site, but “reluctantly concluded” demolishing the block of 70 apartments and the swimming pool, remained “the most feasible option”. It has however, reversed plans to demolish the smaller Court apartment building at Dalcassian Downs in Glasnevin.

The new route will be available for public consultation from Wednesday.