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Statement to the Oireachtas Committee on the MetroLink Project and the impact of construction on recreational amenities

Statement to the Oireachtas Committee from Anne Graham, Chief Executive Officer, National Transport Authority

MetroLink to provide integrated public transport solution for capital

Chairperson and members of the committee, thank you for the invitation to attend. I understand that the Committee wishes to focus upon the MetroLink Project and the impact of construction on recreational amenities. To assist me in dealing with your subsequent questions I am joined by Hugh Creegan, Deputy CEO with the Authority.

MetroLink

The MetroLink project is the development of a north-south urban railway service that will run between Swords and Sandyford, connecting key destinations including Dublin Airport and the City Centre along the 26km route.

A large proportion of the route will be underground, including where it passes under the important city centre area and Dublin Airport. The underground section will terminate close to Charlemont Stop on the Luas Green Line, where the metro will connect to, and run southwards on, the existing Luas Green Line. The Luas Green Line will be upgraded to metro standard as part of the project.

There will be a total of 25 stations (including 15 new stations), 3,000 additional Park and Ride spaces, and a journey time of approximately 50 minutes from Swords to Sandyford.

A map of the overall MetroLink route is available here.

Transport Strategy and National Development Plan 2018-2027

The Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016-2035 identified the provision of two metro projects, Metro North extending from Swords to the south city centre, and Metro South which would further extend metro services southwards along the existing Luas Green Line.

Under the recently published National Development Plan 2018-2027, those two separate schemes have been combined into one metro project, now referred to as “MetroLink”. The combining of the two schemes has a number of advantages:

  • Firstly, it maximises the use of the tunnel boring machines that will be purchased specially for the project;
  • Secondly, it avoids the future disruption and high unit cost associated with the building of the short missing piece of tunnel between St. Stephen’s Green and Charlemont in the event that only Metro North was constructed; and
  • Finally, it allows the major growth that is expected on the Green Line over the next decade, to be accommodated on the higher capacity metro system.

Integration with other transport modes

MetroLink will provide new and important public transport connection opportunities along its route. These will include interchanges with the commuter rail services at Tara Station and Glasnevin Station. At Tara Station the new MetroLink station will be fully integrated into the existing mainline rail station, providing an efficient linkage for passengers transferring between metro and DART services. At Glasnevin a new integrated MetroLink and commuter rail station will be provided which will facilitate passengers transferring between metro and commuter rail services on the Maynooth and Kildare lines.

MetroLink will also link with key routes of the bus system and the separate BusConnects project will ensure ease of connection between buses and the metro at the relevant stations. In addition, MetroLink also connects with the Luas system at O’Connell Street, Charlemont and Sandyford.

A park and ride facility for over 3,000 cars at Estuary will allow for commuters to leave their cars and use the metro service to access the city, reducing overall road congestion.

A map showing the integration between MetroLink, Luas and the heavy rail network is available here.

Benefits

There will be many benefits of the MetroLink project which will support the future development and growth of Dublin’s capital city.

  • It will greatly enhance public transport capacity and accessibility to the city centre and the surrounding corridor for commuters, businesses, retail, education, tourism and the overall sustainability of the city.
  • There will be an improvement for domestic and international travel connections provided by access to and from Dublin airport and through the national rail and road network.
  • There will be decreased road traffic congestion on journeys to and from the Airport and crossing the city from North to South. MetroLink will include a park and ride for over 3,000 vehicles at Estuary, Swords.
  • There will be faster journey times with high frequency and high reliability by MetroLink between Swords, the airport, city centre and towards Sandyford.
  • There will be a more integrated and improved quality of interchanges with Luas, DART, Irish Rail and bus transport hubs across the city with more direct journey opportunities.
  • MetroLink can enhance social inclusion, providing new links from urban areas of Dublin to jobs and services in the city and across the suburbs.
  • The project will support both the regeneration of existing areas and the development of new areas.
  • It will generate employment during construction and operation and will support economic growth once operational.
  • The metro system will support the environment by promoting a modal shift from car to public transport. This will help reduce emissions and energy consumption in addition to improving air quality and reducing road congestion.

Costs

The estimated cost, in current year values, of the MetroLink scheme is approximately €3 billion. This is a preliminary estimate, in advance of public engagement and fully developed designs. The exact cost can only be fully established subsequent to taking on board the outcome of the public consultation process, the further development of the project and the finalisation of the planning process.

In line with the Public Spending Code, a comprehensive Business Case will be prepared for the MetroLink project at the relevant project stage, which will provide a full appraisal of the project, inclusive of the quantification of its benefits and its costs. That Business Case will form part of the final decision making process for the project and will be made publicly available.

In advance of the preparation of the comprehensive business case, an initial cost benefit analysis has been prepared based on the current project details. A copy of this analysis is available on the MetroLink website – www.metrolink.ie – and indicates that the project has a very positive economic performance, with benefits in excess of twice the project’s costs, excluding the additional wider economic impacts likely to be delivered by the project.

Role of NTA and TII

The National Transport Authority is responsible for strategic transport planning and the procurement of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area in line with government policy. As such we have worked closely with TII in the development of the Emerging Preferred Route for Metrolink. TII is responsible for the design of the scheme, bringing the development through the railway order process and the construction of the scheme and is managing the public consultation process that is currently underway.

Further information on MetroLink is available on the website www.metrolink.ie