Metro plans set to be redrawn following political opposition

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy opposes Ranelagh road closure at Beechwood

Eoghan Murphy: “I can confirm that the NTA and TII are looking seriously at alternative options that will not see the community segregated.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Eoghan Murphy: “I can confirm that the NTA and TII are looking seriously at alternative options that will not see the community segregated.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

The National Transport Authority (NTA) is expected to redraw plans for the new Metrolink rail line following political opposition to the closure of a road linking Ranelagh and Rathmines in south Dublin.

The NTA had come under significant pressure from senior politicians, including Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy, to scrap plans to close the level crossing at the current Beechwood Luas stop.

The closure of the through-road from Dunville Avenue to Beechwood Road would force motorists into a 1.2km detour through Ranelagh village and some of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the south of the city.

The NTA last March revealed the preferred route for the new rail line, due to open in 2027, that will run every two minutes from Swords to Sandyford, serving Dublin Airport and the city centre.

The 26km route, 12km of which will be underground, will combine the previously planned Metro North from Swords to the city centre, with an upgrade of the Luas Green line between Charlemont and Sandyford to carry the Metro on a fully segregated line.

Segregation

South of Charlemont the line will, as with the current Luas line, run above ground, but to achieve the segregation needed to ensure the faster journey times, three level crossings have to be closed to traffic.

At the southern end of the line, trams and traffic intersect at the Stillorgan stop at St Raphaela’s Road, which feeds into the Sandyford industrial estate. This road “cannot be permanently closed” the NTA said so it plans to run the track on a new bridge.

Closer to city, there is a level crossing at the back entrance to Alexandra College secondary school in Milltown at Richmond Avenue South. The NTA plans to close this crossing to vehicles, with pedestrians using a footbrigde/lift at the Miltown stop to access the school. The closure will have no effect on access to the school from Milltown Road.

At the Dunville Avenue level crossing next to the Beechwood Luas stop the NTA had said it would be “necessary to permanently close this junction to all traffic”.

Strenuous opposition

However, this last proposal met strenuous opposition, with almost 30 residents groups, in addition to individual residents and local politicians, opposing the closure.

In a submission to the NTA last May, Mr Murphy said he had “serious concerns” about the route with traffic being “unworkable” east of the Luas stop as people were “forced” through Ranelagh village.

Mr Murphy said he has since raised the matter with Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, and in recent weeks has met directly with the NTA and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).

“I can confirm that the NTA and TII are looking seriously at alternative options that will not see the community segregated,” he said. “That is, new proposals that will see both cars and people being able to continue to cross the line at Beechwood.”

Underpass

It is understood the NTA is looking at options including an underpass for cars, or elevating the track on a bridge. A bridge was previously located at this point but was removed in 2003 to be replaced by the level crossing, ahead of the opening of the Luas line.

A spokesman for the NTA confirmed it would publish a report at the end of next month identifying “any amendments to the MetroLink proposals arising from the public consultation process. This will be followed by a short round of public consultation on any changes.”