Public consultation on the project gets under way immediately with MetroLink scheduled to be operational in 2027.
The Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area (2016-2035) envisaged a rail link from the south city centre to Swords. It also envisaged the upgrading of Luas Green Line to metro standard, which would link up to the metro services running north to the airport and beyond, to provide Dublin with “a high capacity, high-frequency cross-city rail corridor”.
Under the National Development Plan 2018-2017, Metro North and Metro South will now proceed as one project known as MetroLink.
Consultation on the project commences next week with a series of information events for communities along the route taking place at local level. There are information evenings organised for areas such as Swords, Ballymun, Dublin City, Glasnevin, Ranelagh and Leopardstown.
National Transport Authority CEO Anne Graham said: “There are very significant benefits associated with MetroLink, particularly in terms of the integrated transport system that it will bring about for Dublin.
“For example, thanks to MetroLink, there will finally be a rail link to Dublin Airport, and with easy interchange with other modes including bus, Dart and commuter rail, MetroLink will make it easier than ever to move into and around the capital.
“There will be 25 stations in total, 15 of them brand new, so it will also make sustainable transport a viable option for more and more people in areas like Swords and Ballymun.
“We have modelled future passenger numbers and we predict that capacity for 15,000 passengers per direction per hour during the busiest peak times will be required along this corridor. We don’t believe that a bus system or a standard Luas line would be able to accommodate that number of passengers and that is why MetroLink makes so much sense.
“MetroLink will have the capacity for 30 trains per hour in each direction, so there is no doubt that it will greatly enhance the public transport offering in Dublin.
“In addition, we envisage the creation of about 4,000 jobs during construction, which is very significant for the economy in the region.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland CEO Michael Nolan said: “Really what today is all about is the launch of the consultation process for MetroLink, because we want to make sure that people at local level have a say.
“What we are publishing here is the ‘Emerging Preferred Route’ (EPR), rather than the final route. Having examined in detail the various alignments and options, the EPR is the one that we feel is the best fit for the project. But we remain open to looking at other proposals, and if people or communities feel there are better ways of doing it, we will of course be happy to consider any alternatives put forward”, Nolan added.
Welcoming today’s announcement Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, Paul Reid, said: “Fingal County Council has long advocated the strategic need for a metro link from Dublin City Centre to the Airport, Swords and North County Dublin and today’s announcement is welcome as it has brought some clarity in relation to the route and timelines. Fingal County Council will be working with Transport Infrastructure Ireland over the coming months to ensure that the final design is the one best suited to Fingal and the Metro Economic Corridor.”
Fingal’s role within Dublin is inevitably evolving to a future that sees the Airport and Swords develop in accordance with the best principles of sustainable growth and ensures Ireland remains within easy reach of Europe and the wider global economy. The future development of Swords and Fingal, in the context of the MetroLink and proximity to Dublin Airport, has been identified in Project Ireland 2040 as an extension where growth can be accommodated.
Already, in the vicinity of the proposed Fosterstown stop, people-intensive employers include Ryanair, Kellogs and Hertz. The recent announcement by pharmaceutical company MSD, to provide 350 jobs at a new manufacturing facility in Swords, further highlights the expanding employment levels within the town and the potential to maximise the use of metro stops as ‘Gateways’ into Swords. Delivering on the sustainable supply of homes and extensive residential development in Swords is ongoing. The future development strategy for Swords is to promote high density and people intensive uses in the immediate vicinity of MetroLink.
The key to the success of Swords will be the integration of Metro Link and Fingal County Council’s Director of Strategic Infrastructure and Planning, AnnMarie Farrelly, emphasised this, stating MetroLink is a key element of the Council’s planning for the sustainable development of Fingal. She said: “Our 2017-2023 County Development Plan has laid the roadmap for the strategic and sustainable development of the areas adjacent to the metro route which has the potential to deliver significant levels of housing choice and high-skilled employment opportunities from now to 2040.” The integration of economic, cultural and social growth, while achieving necessary and sustainable densities within co-ordinated frameworks will be critical for the creation of a prosperous Swords.
The Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Mary McCamley, said: “Councillors on Fingal County Council have spent many years campaigning for a metro system out to Swords and North County Dublin and today’s announcement is a positive step on the road to this long-overdue project becoming a reality.”