Sir, – In “Residents seek redraft of MetroLink line” (News, May 31st), a spokesman for the National Transport Authority (NTA) confirmed that while two potential metro south lines were being considered (UCD-Sandyford and Knocklyon-Rathfarnham), “MetroLink will proceed to planning this year” and “the possibility of other metro lines will not impact on that one way or another”.
This application includes the partial construction of the NTA’s “preferred route” on the southside (ie from the city centre to Ranelagh).
This is not what the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan believes is happening. In the Dáil, on February 10th, the Minister stated that “all three routes will be looked at and we will then have to pursue the best solution.” He also said of the southside component of NTA’s preferred route, “I do not expect we will opt for that route but we should look at it”.
Not only is the NTA single-mindedly ignoring the outcome of public consultations and the objections of senior Government figures to pursue its preferred metro south plan, it is already building it.
The NTA has organised for the construction of the piled walls of the Charlemont station “box” to advance. These works are already under way despite the fact that the Minister has not signed off on the MetroLink business case, and the public has not been given the democratic opportunity to express its views through the planning process.
The only possible way to extract value from the partial construction of a southside route is to continue with the NTA’s original plan for an above-ground conversion of the Green Line Luas to a metro. Therefore, the MetroLink planning application will preordain the future southside decision. Yet the NTA spokesman states that the Green line was not expected to be upgraded to a metro for “another couple of decades” and that “the current arrangement on the Green line is adequate if we sweat the asset, it can take us through to 2040”.
With the country’s finances in such a difficult position and the uncertainties surrounding how cities will operate as a result of Covid-19, why would we wish to lock ourselves into such a risky and expensive long-term decision? To retain some democratic control over transport policy and infrastructure, the Government must ensure that the current phase of MetroLink should terminate no further than St Stephen’s Green until the best possible long-term solution to a southside route has been properly developed. – Yours, etc,