Dublin MetroLink to be delayed until 2035 at the earliest

Public ‘have lost all faith’ in project as delays continue, says member of PAC

The long awaited Dublin MetroLink will not now be completed until 2035 at the earliest, seven years after its original forecast completion date, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has heard.

A metro linking the city by rail to the airport was first mooted in 2005. In 2018, the National Transport Authority (NTA) announced a public consultation and said it would be completed by 2027 if it succeeds at the planning stage.

In October this year Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan stated that he could not guarantee that MetroLink would be finished by 2034.

The project was included in the National Development Plan at a cost of at least €3 billion to deliver a “sustainable, safe, efficient, integrated and accessible public transport service between Swords, Dublin Airport and Dublin city centre, but no completion date was included.


Speaking at the PAC on Thursday morning, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) chief executive Peter Walsh said that he too could not give a completion date for the project.

The TII is in charge of building transport infrastructure projects in the State.

Mr Walsh said €83 million had been spent to date on the most recent iteration of the MetroLink project. That figure does not include fees relating to the earlier versions of the metro.

He estimated that if the Government gives the go-ahead in this quarter, planning permission will be sought in the second quarter.

The planning process will take at least two years, it will be followed by a two to 2½-year procurement process and then the construction would take between eight and nine years.

Fianna Fáil TD Paul McAuliffe said his constituency of Dublin North-West which includes Ballymun, Finglas and Dublin Airport still had no rail link to the city centre and people were completely dependent on buses.

“Across north Dublin people have lost complete faith in metro because it is a 20 year saga,” he told the committee.

“The people of north Dublin are now facing a situation where at best it will be 2035 for a project which the Government is willing to fund now.

“It is hugely frustrating because the Government haven’t made a decision to delay this project by 10 years, but it looks like it will be delayed by 10 years.

“You can imagine how people are alarmed after €88 million [sic], we don’t have a MetroLink. Can you understand that frustration Mr Walsh?” he said.

“Not really,” Mr Walsh responded. “I take your word for you if you are frustrated.”

“It is reasonable that people are frustrated by that?” Mr McAuliffe added.

“People’s frustration is not something I can really comment on,” Mr Walsh said.

Mr McAuliffe reminded Mr Walsh that a timeline for the project was produced in 2018 and TII was supposed to have produced the rail procurement order in the third quarter of 2019, but “failed at the first hurdle”.

“Was it a realistic timeline ever or was it not resourced to the point where you could deliver it within that timeframe?” Mr McAuliffe asked.

Mr Walsh said the timeline announced in 2018 was “probably optimistic. It has taken time to deal with the issues that needed to be dealt with”.

Mr McAuliffe asked him why the TII could not commit to a timeline for the project. Mr Walsh stated the planning process, possible judicial reviews and procurement process were outside the power of his organisation.

Mr McAuliffe said in giving no deadline for the project, it would be impossible to hold others to account for it. “It is effectively a doubling of the length of the project. We compounded the disappointment of people by a timeframe that was not realistic.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times