Herald op-ed on Dublin transport element of Government’s Capital plan

30th September, 2015

With unemployment falling and the economy growing at the fastest rate in Europe, our roads are busier than ever and traffic congestion is again becoming an issue. While we are still at a delicate stage in our recovery, now is the time to plan for the future.


Yesterday, I made an announcement in respect of a project that that will have a significant impact on Dublin transport in the future; a transport link for the city centre to Dublin Airport and on to Swords. New Metro North, which is a 16.5km light rail line that will connect St Stephen’s Green to Swords, via the Airport was announced as part of the Government’s overall Capital Plan from 2016-2022.


In Census 2011, the Fingal area recorded close to four times the population growth rate of Dublin city and almost double that of the other Dublin counties.  A significant amount of our future population growth is expected to take place there, which makes the delivery of a longer-term transport solution for the region an absolutely priority.


New Metro North will have the capacity to carry over 30 million passengers a year and will provide a fast, frequent and direct rail connection from the Airport into the heart of the city with trams every two minutes in each direction.  Construction of is expected to commence in 2021 with a view to delivering the project by 2026/27 and 3.5000 jobs will be generated during construction phase.


It will serve several hospitals; the Mater Hospital, Temple Street Children’s Hospital and the Rotunda, as well as several third level institutions such as DCU, Trinity College and St. Patrick’s College. It will allow people to travel from O’Connell St to the Airport in 19 minutes and to Swords Estuary in half an hour.


We are one of very few capital cities in Europe that still does not offer a direct rail link to those arriving home to Dublin Airport or coming to pay us a visit from elsewhere. We must, and we will, rectify that.


While work is progressing on new Metro North, a number of other projects that have been included in the plan will also be taking place. We cannot wait until 2026 for transport solutions. Provision is being made for an extension of the DART line to Balbriggan, which will be in place by 2022, and progress will be made on expanding DART services further to Maynooth in the west and Hazelhatch in the southwest. Funds are also being provided for the completion of Luas Cross City, which will add 10 million additional journeys each year to our public transport network and the opening of the Phoenix Park Tunnel will see commuters on the Kildare to Dublin Heuston line having the option of direct trains to Connolly, Tara St, Pearse and Grand Canal Dock from 2016.


All of these new projects are crucial to our future planning and to making sure that our people are supported in getting around as the economy grows. Equally important, however, is the maintenance and renewal of what we already have. That’s why I’m providing for fleet replacement on our bus and LUAS services. Quality Bus Corridors on core bus routes will be upgraded to improve journey times and Leap card and Real Time Passenger Information services will also be enhanced so that the travelling public is better informed and can travel at reduced rates. Funding is also being provided for cycle lanes so that more people are encouraged to leave the car at home and hop on the bike instead.


Our economy is still fragile but since 2012 we have seen more than 125,000 new jobs created. We are not where we want, or need, to be just yet but we are heading in the right direction. We must invest in transport to ensure that our recovery is sustainable and real. This will allow our city, and county, to continue to develop into the years ahead and our people to go about their daily business in a more efficient and, hopefully, stress-free way.