Government says it hasn’t decided to delay construction of Metrolink until 2027 but start date down to planning permission

Artist impression drawings of proposed MetroLink stations across Dublin city

Ciara O'Loughlin

The Government has not decided to delay construction of the Metrolink until 2027, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Transport.

However it is unable to say when construction on the project will start.

It comes after Labour TD Duncan Smith yesterday called for urgent clarification from Transport Minister Eamon Ryan around plans for the underground MetroLink to Dublin Airport after it was reported the project could now be delayed by seven years.

Today, a spokesperson for Mr Ryan’s department said his intention is that construction commences within the lifetime of this Government, however this requires planning permission and the necessary Government approvals.

The Irish Mail on Sunday reported that construction for both the Dart Plus electrification of the coastal railway line as far as Balbriggan, and the underground MetroLink may not commence until 2027.

This would mean that the Dart Plus may not be ready until 2032, and the MetroLink until 2034.

Although the Department of Transport today said the Government has made no decision to defer construction to 2027, a spokesperson added that “the exact start date will depend on the granting of planning permission and government decision under the public spending code”.

The department said the programme faces two imminent and important milestones in the coming months which will determine the progress of MetroLink in the coming years.

The spokesperson added: “Firstly, there is Government’s approval at Decision Gate 1 of the Public Spending Code, to permit the project enter the planning system.

“Secondly, finalization of the extensive documentation required to lodge a Railway Order application to An Bord Pleanála.

“Work is ongoing in relation to both of these with substantial progress expected in the coming months, with the Railway Order application likely to be finalised by Q1 2022.”

Mr Smith said yesterday that the MetroLink is vital to get the economy back up and running after the pandemic while meeting Ireland’s climate reduction targets.

“It would be simply unacceptable if the MetroLink project was delayed until 2034,” he said.

"We need this project for the people of north Co Dublin and Swords, and for the whole country.

“An affordable light rail link will not only reduce traffic from Swords to the city centre, but the MetroLink will also allow residents to commute quickly, cheaply and sustainably.”

He said transport emissions only marginally decreased by 0.3pc in the last year during the Covid-19 lockdowns and when people were encouraged to work from home.

"We are still far too dependent on private cars as a principal mode of transport in many parts of the city, particularly in my own constituency of Dublin Fingal where public transport options can be limited,” he added.

“As well as the urgent need for sustainable public transport, MetroLink just makes practical sense. There is a massive infrastructure deficit on the M1 Corridor and we’re likely to see traffic return to being bumper to bumper once all workers return to the office.”

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