Metro from south Dublin to north county to be finished in 10 years

Varadkar says Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford to grow at twice the rate of Dublin

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar after the launch of Project Ireland 2040. Photograph: Michelle Devane/PA Wire

A €5 billion upgrade to rail infrastructure in Dublin that will see a new metro run from the south suburbs to north county Dublin via the airport, as well as electrification of commuter rail lines, will be completed within a decade.

The announcement of a new “Metro Link” and the upgrading of commuter rail to Dart lines, as well as investments to increase capacity and upgrade signalling, were some of the major elements of the Government’s “Project Ireland 2040” plan.

The overall strategy announced on Friday combined a 20-year national planning framework, which seeks to manage population growth to 2040, and a 10-year capital investment plan of €116 billion.

By 2040, it is intended that 75 per cent of the extra one million people living in Ireland will be living outside Dublin.


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the cities of Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford should grow at twice the rate of Dublin in that time and catch up with the capital.

Athlone will be designated as the “key regional centre” for the midlands. In the northeast, a cross-Border network comprising Drogheda, Dundalk and Newry has been identified as the driver of regional growth.

In the northwest, Sligo has been designated a regional growth centre while Letterkenny is also singled out as a driver of cross-Border growth.

An Atlantic economic corridor from Kerry to Donegal is also described as a “key enabler”.

By 2040, it is anticipated that an extra 250,000 people will be living in Dublin, a combined additional 250,000 people in Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway and 500,000 elsewhere across the country.


Overall, the capital plan seeks to increase the amount of money spent on infrastructure from 2.9 per cent of gross national income now to 4.1 per cent in 2027.

In Dublin, €3 billion will be spent on a revamped and extended version of the previous Metro North project. It will be developed in tandem with a €2 billion upgrade to the existing Dart system.

In a change from previous announcements on the Dublin metro plan, it is envisaged there will not be a transport hub in St Stephen’s Green.

It will effectively replace the current Luas green line from the south city centre to Sandyford, with the subterranean element of the new metro ending at Charlemont (a stop on the Luas line).

The Dart upgrade will see commuter lines to Drogheda, Dunboyne, Maynooth and Celbridge electrified. The Phoenix Park tunnel will also be used for high capacity commuter services.

So-called “BusConnect” schemes will be rolled out in Galway, Cork and Dublin. The upgrade of these bus networks will cost €200 million in Cork and Galway and €2 billion in Dublin. A €1 billion rural regeneration fund will be established and there will also be a €2 billion urban regeneration fund.

A new National Regeneration and Development Agency will seek to build on land banks, particularly so-called “brownfield” sites that have been used for commercial and industrial purposes, to ensure greater house building in urban areas.

The regional roads network will be allocated €7.3 billion, to include further development of the A5 motorway to Derry.

Investments in enterprise, innovation and skills programmes take up €9.4 billion of the plan.


An allocation of €21.8 billion will go towards measures to help Ireland move to a “low carbon and climate resilient society”. This will include €1 billion for flood defences across the country. Managing water and other environmental resources will get €8.8 billion, and this includes €1.2 billion for the “eastern and midlands water supply project” – a 170km pipeline from the river Shannon to Dublin.

The construction of new primary and secondary schools will cost €8.4 billion and will lead to 20,000 new school places.

The health sector will get €10.9 billion, which will fund new hospitals and wards across the country.

The third-level education sector will be given €2.2 billion for infrastructure projects, with €4.3 billion going towards airports and ports to fund projects such as a second runway at Dublin Airport.

A €1 billion culture fund will drive investment in institutions such as the National Museum, the National Library and the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork.