Dublin is in many ways a modern European capital, a cosmopolitan city with a diverse population. However, one area in which Dublin lags behind its European counterparts, is the city’s woefully inadequate public transport system. At present, Dublin’s public transport options boast a bus network, commuter, and long-distance rail network, and two tram lines (Luas). Contrast this with similarly sized cities across the EU that have vastly superior public transport offerings.
This poor public transport offering reflects Dublin’s growth as a relatively poor city for most of the 20th century. It was only in the 1990s that Ireland’s economy really began to take off, providing funding for transport infrastructure investment.
During the first decade of the 21st century, vast improvements were made to Ireland’s transport infrastructure, including a transformative motorway network. In the then-Irish Government’s 2005 Transport 21 plan, plans were proposed to build a metro in a north-south direction across the city serving in particular Dublin airport, one of the few International Airports in a European capital that is not served by public transport beyond bus connections.
It has now been over fifteen years since the initial proposal, and this month the plan for a new Metro has finally received cabinet approval, with Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan promising that planning applications will be lodged this September.
The project promises trains every three minutes at peak times, the route is set to run from Swords in north Dublin and terminate at Charlemont near Ranelagh in the south of the city. With an end-to-end journey of 25 minutes, this will include stops at Dublin Airport, O’Connell Street and St Stephens Green.
Minister Ryan stated that “MetroLink is a once-in-a-generation project that is going to massively transform the public transport system in our capital city.”
An estimated maximum cost of around €12.25 billion is being outlined, with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar stating this was an “extreme case” scenario for costing. Mr. Varadkar outlined that the current estimate for the project budget is €9.5 billion. “That could go up, and at the same time it could go down,” Mr. Varadkar said.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, welcomed the announcement of MetroLink, but called on Minister Ryan to explain what he called “the ballooning cost”.
Construction could begin as soon as 2025 with hopes the metro could be operational by the early 2030s.