Minister Donohoe & National Transport Authority announce shortlist of project options to address future transport needs in Fingal/North Dublin

8th December, 2014

Public views on 6 shortlisted options sought by January 19th


As part of a review of future transport needs in Fingal/North Dublin, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, today (Monday) announced a short-list of six project options to serve one of the fastest-growing regions in the country, encompassing Swords and Dublin Airport.


The six proposed options are:


  • Two heavy rail options:

o   A DART link from Clongriffin to the airport and Swords (Option HR2);

    • A DART link from the Maynooth Railway Line to the airport and Swords via a tunnel under Glasnevin (Option HR8);
  • Two Luas/metro options:

o   A Luas line from Cabra to the airport and Swords via a tunnel under Glasnevin (Option LR3);

    • A metro proposal from St. Stephen’s Green to the Airport and Swords (Option LR7);
  • One Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Option:
  • One Combination Option:
    • A combination of a number of proposed Bus Rapid Transit services (Option BRT 5); and
    • A combination of a DART link from Clongriffin to the airport and a Luas line from Cabra to Swords (Option C1).

Population and employment growth in Fingal/North Dublin will stimulate increased travel across the region over the medium term that cannot be catered for by car.  Extra public transport capacity will be required, supplemented by cycling and walking for shorter journeys.


Earlier in 2014, following a public procurement process, the National Transport Authority appointed Aecom, a firm specialising in transport engineering, to identify optimum medium term / long term public transport solutions in the Fingal / North Dublin area. As part of the initial stage of the review, a total of 25 public transport scheme options were identified and proposed for initial evaluation, including:

  • 10 Heavy Rail options;
  • 8 Light Rail options;
  • 5 BRT options; and
  • 2 options combining different transport modes.


All of those 25 proposals were reviewed and assessed, including consideration of technical feasibility, cost and environmental issues, following which the six shortlisted schemes have been proposed for further design development and more detailed evaluation. This next stage will include:

  • Technical development of the options, both engineering design and operational parameters;
  • More detailed costing and environmental assessment;
  • Transport modelling to assess likely usage; and
  • Cost benefit analysis.


Full details of the 25 options and the six shortlisted options are published today on, and members of the public are invited to review the material and submit their views and opinions before the consultation closes at 5:00pm on Monday, January 19th 2015.


Submissions will be considered by the National Transport Authority team as part of their on-going work to identify a preferred option.  This preferred option will then be included in the Authority’s overall Greater Dublin Area Strategy plan, which will be presented to Minister Donohoe in June of next year, for his consideration and decision.


Speaking today, Minister Donohoe said: ‘The Fingal area is one of the fastest growing areas in the country. In Census 2011 it registered the third-highest growth rate in the country at 13.9%; close to four times the population growth of Dublin city and almost double that of other Dublin county council areas.  Failure to put appropriate plans in place now to meet the long-term transport needs of this area, will mean increased congestion down the line which will ultimately threaten our future economic development.


“The overall objective of this study, the first stage of which is being launched today, is to identify the appropriate public transport solution to serve the medium to long-term needs of the Swords / Dublin Airport to City Centre corridor. The shortlist of six options has been identified following engagement with stakeholders. I urge people to make their views known, through the NTA, so that they can be considered as we move to the next stage and an optimum public transport solution for the Greater North Dublin area”.


Gerry Murphy, CEO of the National Transport Authority said: “We need to plan well ahead for an area of Dublin that has grown greatly in the last decade and which will continue to grow due to increasing population and greater economic activity. We have carried out a very comprehensive exercise in looking at a wide spectrum of project options and we will now evaluate the most appropriate 6 projects in even greater detail. The objective is to find the project that best meets the needs on a value for money basis of such an important area of the Dublin region.  I encourage everyone with an interest in this area to take a look at the proposal details on our website, and to make their views known to us before the deadline of January 19th.”



Q&A on the Fingal / North Dublin Study


What is the purpose of this study?

The objective of the Fingal / North Dublin study is to identify the appropriate public transport solution to serve the long-term needs of the Swords / Dublin Airport to City Centre corridor.

Why is it so important to serve Swords?

The whole area of Fingal is one of the fastest growing areas in the country.  Between the 2002 and 2006 censuses, it had the highest growth rate of any county, with a population increase of 22.1%.  In the subsequent 2011 census, it registered the third highest growth rate in the country at 13.9%.

Within the Dublin area, the 2011 census recorded Fingal as having close to four times the population growth rate of Dublin City and almost double the population growth rates of the other Dublin counties.  A recent review of house planning permissions by the Dublin planning authorities identified that half of the available sites with planning permission granted, or in the process of being granted, are located in Fingal, with a large proportion centred around Swords.  Overall, a large amount of Dublin’s future growth will occur in Fingal, with Swords representing the centre of that growth.

How is the study being carried out?

The process is to firstly identify all of the realistic and technically feasible proposals that could potentially serve this  Swords to City Centre corridor, and to go through a comparative evaluation process to identify the optimum solution to bring forward for final decision.

It is intended that a two stage comparative evaluation process will be undertaken.  The first stage – the current stage – is to carry out a simplified appraisal of all the options and to select from the overall list the five or six best proposals.  That shortlist of five or six options will then be brought through a detailed evaluation process, assessing cost, engineering, environmental and usage forecasts.  From that process one scheme would be identified as the recommended preferred option.

What has been done so far?

Following engagement with some of the key stakeholders – Dublin Airport Authority, Dublin City Council, Fingal County Council, Irish Rail, RPA, Dublin Metro Consortium – 25 technical solutions have been identified.  These comprise 10 heavy rail options, 8 light rail options, 5 BRT proposals, and two combination proposals.

A number of these options comprise proposals developed by different agencies and parties, such as Metro North, Metro Dublin, DART Airport Link and others.

These have now been evaluated on a comparative basis and a shortlist of six options has been selected.  Subject to the outcome of this consultation process, these six options are proposed to go forward to the next stage of detailed assessment.

What are the six shortlisted options:

The six options currently identified to go forward to the second more detailed appraisal stage are:

  • HR2: A heavy rail spur from Clongriffin to the airport and Swords;
  • HR8: A new heavy rail line from the Maynooth Line to the airport and Swords via a tunnel under Glasnevin;
  • LR3: Light rail from Cabra to  the airport and Swords via a tunnel under Glasnevin (Luas D2);
  • LR7: Optimised Metro North;
  • BRT5: A combination of a number of proposed Bus Rapid Transit services; and
  • C1: A combination of HR1 and LR3, i.e. a heavy rail spur from Clongriffin to the airport and light rail from Dublin to Swords via the airport.

What happens at the next stage?

Each of the shortlisted options are analysed in significant detail.  If they don’t already exist, engineering designs are prepared.  Costs of each option are established.  Environmental issues are assessed.  Computerised transport modelling is carried out using the NTA’s transport model covering the Greater Dublin Area, to establish likely passenger usage and economic benefits.   A full cost benefit analysis is carried out for each option.

Using all of this information a comparative assessment is then carried out on the shortlisted options in line with the standardised guidance set out for public sector projects.  This evaluates projects under the five macro headings of:

  • Economy;
  • Integration;
  • Environment;
  • Accessibility and Social Inclusion; and
  • Safety.

Arising from this evaluation, the NTA will identify and recommend what they consider to be the optimum transport solution.

Why is a consultant doing this work and how did they get selected?

Because of the spectrum of skills required for this work, ranging from tunnel engineering to archaeology expertise, the NTA sought tenders from firms with the required skillsets to carry out this work.  Following a competitive process, the engineering design firm of Aecom was awarded the contract for this work.

What do people do if they want to comment on the report?

The NTA will be placing this report on its website at People can use the online form on the NTA’s website to make a submission or, alternatively email their comments to the address provided on the website.

How long will people have to make comments?

The public consultation period will run for about six weeks, up to Monday 19th January 2015.