MetroLink rethink a hammer to crack a nut

Analysis: Ranelagh residents may not get what they want as metro issue postponed

Converting the Luas Green line to a metro undoubtedly would have caused disruption for commuters in south Dublin, but not to the extent some commentators claimed.

Suggestions the line would be “ripped up” don’t stand up to scrutiny. The Green line was designed with a view to it eventually carrying a metro, with stronger tracks, bridges and foundations to accommodate the heavier metro, and extra width for the turning movements of longer trains.

The first MetroLink proposal, published last March, would have inconvenienced residents in Ranelagh and Rathmines, primarily motorists. It involved closing the through-road from Dunville Avenue to Beechwood Road, forcing motorists into a 1.2km detour through Ranelagh village.

Described as the "Berlin Wall" this proposal met strenuous opposition from residents and politicians, including Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy and former minister for justice Michael McDowell.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) put forward two solutions for Dunville Avenue: one involved the construction of a rail bridge over the road; the other would see the construction of a railway “cutting” allowing the train to travel under the road.

These options were not acceptable locally, and instead plans were drawn up to extend the tunnel, which was due to end at the current Luas Charlemont stop, past the Dunville Avenue junction.

Luas disruption

It emerged last month this would add considerably to the disruption of the Luas line during construction. While the work to connect the two lines at Charlemont could mostly be done without interfering with the running of the Green line, tunnelling under it and emerging to create a link at an intermediate point on the line would require the power to the line to be disconnected.

This could result in disruption to the line for two to four years, which Minister for Transport Shane Ross said would be "intolerable".

It would certainly make life tricky for the thousands of southside commuters who have come to rely on the line since it opened 15 years ago.

But what is genuinely intolerable for the residents of an apartment block on Townsend Street is the plan to demolish their homes to facilitate a station.

The NTA said on Tuesday it had taken the College Gate residents’ concerns “very seriously” but demolition remained “the optimum solution”.

NTA deputy chief executive Hugh Creegan said any changes made to the route were "technical decisions" taken to deal with "some of the issues raised".

To compensate for the decision not to convert the Luas to a metro, the NTA plans to run 30 trams an hour, in each direction, on the Green line by 2028. That will mean a tram every minute going though the level crossing at Dunville Avenue, which will in effect make it an unusable route for motorists.