Dublin Metro

Dublin Metro
Dublin Metro
Locale Dublin
Transit type Rapid transit
Number of lines 2
Began operation Proposed
Operator(s) RPA

The Dublin Metro (Irish: Meitreo Átha Cliath) is a proposed metro system for the city of Dublin. The first two lines were set out in the Irish Government's 2005 Transport 21 transport plan: they are known as Metro North and Metro West. The metro scheme is part of the planned rail infrastructure of Dublin, along with Luas trams, DART and Dublin Suburban Rail network.

Metro North (Irish: Meitreo Thuaidh) is to run from St. Stephen's Green to the airport and on to Swords, ending at the Broadmeadow Estuary. Its route is planned to consist of two deep bore tunnels under the airport and in the city, along with cut and cover tunnelling through the main street in Ballymun along with surface running in non built-up areas, and a few elevated sections. On 16 September 2008, the RPA submitted a Railway Order Application to An Bord Pleanála. On 27 October 2010, An Bord Pleanála granted a Railway Order for Metro North. It was speculated that the Metro North Project would be cancelled on 12 August 2011 following a review by Leo Varadkar, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, this was to be confirmed on 10 November.[1][2] On that day, the Irish Government announced that Metro North was being deferred.[3]

Metro West (Irish: Meitreo Thiar) is to run from an intersection with Metro North, just south of the airport at Santry, and from there pass through Blanchardstown, Liffey Valley, and Clondalkin before joining the Red Line of the Luas to continue towards Tallaght. Metro West is planned to be entirely above ground, at road level, with major junctions overpassed. Metro West is currently planned to be 25.5 kilometres long. Planning on the Metro West Project was suspended in September 2011 following a review by Leo Varadkar, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport as money to construct the new railway will not be available in the foreseeable future.[4]




The original envisaged timeline set out in the Transport 21 plan was for the Metro system to be delivered in phases as follows:

  • 2010 - Metro West Phase 1 (Tallaght to Clondalkin).
  • 2011 - Metro West Phase 2 (Clondalkin to Lucan).
  • 2012 - Metro West Phase 3 (Lucan to Blanchardstown).
  • 2013 - Metro North [5]
  • 2014 - Metro West Phase 4 (Blanchardstown to Ballymun).

However, due to delays in the planning process and economic difficulties, it has emerged that Metro North will not be operational until at least 2016 and Metro West will only be operational in 2019 at the earliest.[6]

History of proposed Metro

The original idea for the two Metro lines in Dublin can be attributed to the November 2001 "Platform for Change" report by the Dublin Transportation Office (DTO).[7] The purpose of the report was to come up with an integrated transportation strategy for the greater Dublin region. In its report, the DTO outlined plans for three Metro lines. The first was a North-South line which would run from Swords to Shanganagh via Dublin Airport, Finglas, Broadstone, the city centre, Ranelagh, Sandyford and Cherrywood. The second would link Tallaght West to Tallaght and then continue through the south-western suburbs of Dublin to the city centre. The third line would run in an orbital pattern, with a spur off the Swords-Shanganagh line at Finglas and then continue via Blanchardstown and Clondalkin to Tallaght, where it would connect with the other line.

Dublin Airport carried over 21 million passengers in 2006. This figure is projected to grow to 30 million by 2015.[8] As a result, the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) identified a medium-capacity public-transport link to Dublin Airport as one of the most important gaps in the Dublin rail network. Two options were seen as a solution to the problem:

  • A spur off the existing DART line to Dublin Airport, as proposed by Iarnród Éireann.
  • A metro system, running from Finglas through Dublin Airport and on to the city centre, in line with the DTO's suggestions.

The metro option emerged as the preferred option, as it provides both an airport link and a commuter link. It has been described by the RPA as "an important commuter link for the communities and institutions of North Dublin City and County".[9] Metro North (from Swords to St. Stephen's Green) and Metro West were adopted as government policy with the launch of the Transport 21 programme in 2005.

Metro North

Metro North[10]
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Fosterstown Park & Ride
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Airport Airport interchange
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Dardistown Park & Ride
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Dublin City University
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Griffith Avenue
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Drumcondra Iarnród Éireann
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Parnell Square
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O'Connell Bridge Luas
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St Stephen's Green Luas Iarnród Éireann


Three potential routes for Metro North were published by the Railway Procurement Agency in February 2006. After public consultation, the RPA announced in October 2006[11] that they had selected a routing known as the 'East/Central Combined Route'. A slightly updated route, with changes in proposed station names, some modifications to station locations, and details of proposed overground and underground routes through Swords was released by the RPA in March 2008.[12]

The metro line will begin at an underground station in St. Stephen’s Green in the city centre. It will continue north and run underground through a 7 km long tunnel. Stops along this tunnel will include O'Connell Bridge, Parnell Square, Mater, Drumcondra and Griffith Avenue. It will continue in cut and cover tunnel through Ballymun, with two more stops at Dublin City University and Ballymun town centre. The line emerges from tunnel north of Ballymun at the Northwood stop (previously named Santry Demesne) after which it crosses over the M50 motorway to another surface stop at Dardistown (previously referred to as Metropark) where there will be a 300 space Park and Ride facility. The Metro North maintenance depot will also be located at Dardistown. From here, the line continues into a 2.3km bored tunnel under Dublin Airport with a stop at the airport serving Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Short cut and cover underpasses will be used in parts of the track approaching Fosterstown station (previously Nevinstown) and after Swords stop. Elevated tracks will also be used here. Following Swords, the metro will terminate north of Swords at Estuary Stop.

The total route length will be 16.5 km of which over 10km will be in tunnel. Metro North will have a final design capacity of roughly 20,000 passengers per hour, based on one 90m train every 2 minutes. Park and ride facilities are planned for Fosterstown and Dardistown. There will be bus interchanges at most stops, while there will rail interchanges at Drumcondra and St. Stephen's Green (following the completion of DART Underground). The Luas will interchange at O'Connell St. and St. Stephen's Green.


On 22 March 2007 the Railway Procurement Agency began the procurement process for Metro North. In October 2007 it announced that it had a shortlist of four consortiums interested in building Metro North. Draft Environmental Impact Statements were published in early 2008. On 17 September 2008, the RPA applied for a railway order to An Bord Pleanála.[13] Oral hearings were heard during 2009 and 2010.[14]

In July 2009, the RPA narrowed down the list of bidders to two groups: Celtic Metro Group and Metro Express.

Concerns over location of Dublin Airport station

In July 2006, the Dublin Chamber of Commerce expressed its concern over the location of the Dublin Airport Station on the Metro North route.[15] According to the Chamber of Commerce, the RPA's favoured option was a station at the Radisson SAS Hotel, which is 700 metres from the Airport Terminal. This option was devised on the basis that it would avoid the need for a tunnel under the airport. The Chamber of Commerce did not support this proposal. They said, "unless the more costly underground option [of tunnelling under the terminal] is developed, the massive economic and social benefits the project promises to deliver to the country over the coming decades will be put at risk." The location of the Metro stop may also pose a problem for users of the system who wish to access the proposed Terminal 3 to the west, which is part of the overall future development of the airport.

In the announcement of the proposed route on 19 October 2006, however, it was confirmed that the Metro station serving Dublin Airport would not be located at the Radisson SAS Hotel. The location according to the railway order application is for the station to be situated just east of St. Colmcille's church in the airport, close to the current short term carparks and adjacent to both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2.

DCU/Ballymun track

On 20 April 2007 RTÉ News reported that the decision to have elevated tracks between Dublin City University (where the underground section ends) and the airport (where it goes underground again) have been scrapped due to many complaints about noise and visual pollution that this would bring.[16] Residents associations in the Whitehall, Glasnevin and Ballymun areas had campaigned for the cut and cover option (which creates the least long-term obstruction) as the deep-bore tunnel was not preferred due to its significantly higher cost. The underground track will run underground from St Stephen's Green to north of Ballymun and surface at the Northwood stop before crossing the M50 and going underground again under Dublin Airport.

Other concerns

In 2006 Eamon Ryan, then transport spokesperson for the Irish Green Party, called for the underground section of the Metro to be extended south to Beechwood, where it would then surface and provide a direct link to the Luas Green Line.[17] This option would allow passengers to travel from the south of the city to the north, without having to change mode of transport. It is also consistent with the Dublin Transportation Office's suggestions in the Platform for Change document, which envisaged that a Metro line would run across the city following the upgrade of the Luas to Metro by 2020. The Green Party entered government in June 2007, however since then there does not seem to have been any change in government transport policy with regard to extending the Metro south of St. Stephen's Green.

Other concerns over the Metro North are that bicycles will not be allowed in the carriages, and that the distances between some of the most central stations are too long. Cost is also a concern, Metro North is expected to cost €2.5 billion. This means that each kilometre of track would cost approximately €138 million.[18][19] There is also concern over lasting damage to St. Stephen's Green, as the northwest corner of it will become a construction site during the building of the Metro.[20] The Railway Procurement Agency has attempted to allay some of the fears about the Metro North by publishing a document entitled "Metro North Myths And Facts".[21][22]

In February 2011 RPA published the latest Metro North Route Map.[23]

Value for money

The cost of the project was estimated by then Minister Eamon Ryan at '€2.5 to 3 billion' on RTE Prime Time on 21/October/2010[2]. The RPA revised their business case for Metro North in December 2010. The revised version[3] estimates an internal rate of return of between 8.4% and 12.34%. The Benefit Cost ratio is estimated at between 1.46 and 1.89. The business case assumes that Metro North would carry 33.3 million passengers annually and that ticket revenue will be sufficient to cover operational costs. On September 22nd,2011, the Minister for Transport estimated that costs incurred to date on the Metro North project were €151m.[4] The business case estimates that the Net Present Value of the project is €1bn.


The European Investment Bank has agreed to lend €500m[5] to part finance the project. The intention is to fund the rest of the project through a combination of state funding and a Public Private Partnership. The PPP element is expected to be greater than €1bn[6]. The Minister for Transport has drawn attention to the difficulty in obtaining PPP finance for Ireland due to the country's weakened credit rating following the financial crisis and IMF intervention[7]. The minister also speculated that funding may come from a sovereign wealth fund or from the National Pension Reserve Fund via the National Development Finance Authority.


It was speculated that the Metro North Project along with the DART Underground project would both be indefinitely deferred on 12 August 2011 following a review by Leo Varadkar, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. This was confirmed on the 10th of November 2011. [24]

Metro North Railway Order for Maintenance Depot Granted

Metro North Railway Order for Maintenance Depot was granted on 5 October 2011 by An Bord Pleanála. The maintenace depot will be located at the Dardistown Metro North stop. http://www.rpa.ie/en/projects/metro_north/build_and_operation_permission/Pages/default.aspx

Metro West

Metro West
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Urban stop on track
Urban stop on track
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Millennium Park
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Porterstown Iarnród Éireann
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Liffey Valley Luas
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Fonthill Iarnród Éireann
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St Brigids
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Belgard Luas
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Colbert's Fort
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Tallaght East Luas

Two potential routes for Metro West were published by the Railway Procurement Agency in January 2007, with a number of sub-options also included. Following discussions and a public consultation process, the preferred route was announced in July 2007. This route starts at Tallaght, then continues on through Belgard, Clondalkin, Liffey Valley, Blanchardstown. Stops are also planned for the National Aquatic Centre and Abbotstown, before continuing in the direction of Sillogue and Harristown. Following Harristown it will link with the Metro North, after Northwood and before Dardistown station. The line is expected to be 25 km long.[25]

Although the Metro West is currently in the early planning stages and can change at a later stage, according to the design drawings produced by the RPA, the Metro West line will not be segregated from road traffic, unlike the Metro North proposal. Metro West will run overground, with some tunnels and bridges to avoid major road junctions.[26] The preferred route will also see a number of interchanges with other modes of public transport. As well as the link with the Metro North, the line will also link with the Luas at Tallaght and Belgard, rail services at Fonthill and Porterstown and Dublin Bus services at a number of other stops. Park and ride facilities are also proposed at a number of stops.

Route through Finglas

Metro West will serve the northern parts of Finglas via stops at the N2 and Meakstown. When developing options for Metro West, the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) considered routes south of the M50, serving Finglas more directly. These routes were not deemed feasible as they would have considerable impact on residential and commercial properties in the area, require additional bridges over the M50 and add considerable journey time to the route. It is proposed in the DTO strategy that Finglas is served by a radial light rail line. The first phase of this is outlined in Transport 21 as running to Liffey Junction.

Route selection

On 11 November 2008, the RPA chose their preferred route for Metro West, including indicative stops, depot and Park and Ride locations. The preferred route for Metro West runs from Tallaght to Metro North at Dardistown, via Clondalkin, Liffey Valley and Blanchardstown. The preferred route is approximately 25.5 km long. The planned route will interchange with (from south to north) the Luas Red Line, Kildare Railway Line, Luas Line F (to Lucan), Maynooth Railway Line and Metro North Line, as well as local bus services.[27]

DART Underground

The Interconnector (Irish: Idirnascaire), also known as DART Underground, was a planned railway tunnel in Ireland, it was expected to run under the city centre of Dublin. The tunnel would have allowed for the expansion of the electrified DART and the Dublin Suburban Rail network, and connect these rail transport systems.

It was intended to provide a link between the Docklands railway station at Spencer Dock (northern rail and western/north-western railway lines), Pearse Station (southern railway line) and Heuston Station (southwestern railway line). In addition, it would have connected to the Luas light rail system, and the planned Metro.

Metro North and DART Underground would have interconnect at St Stephen's Green station, the former supplying passengers to stations in the Northside whilst the latter runs along the Southside of the River Liffey, together providing underground rail access to much of the inner-city.[28] Stations would have also provide easy access to some of the city's most tourist destinations, such as the O2 concert arena and the Point Village and Spencer Dock city quarters via. the Docklands station; St Stephen's Green park and Stephen's Green Shopping Centre via. St Stephen's Green station; Clerys department store, the historic GPO and the Spire of Dublin on O'Connell Street via. O'Connell Street station; Dublin Writers Museum and the Garden of Remembrance via. Parnell Square station; Trinity College, Dublin and College Green via. Pearse Street station; Guinness Storehouse and Phoenix Park via. Heuston Station.[29]

See also


  1. ^ "Metro North and Dart Underground schemes are axed". http://www.herald.ie/news/metro-north-and-dart-underground-schemes-are-axed-2846703.html. http://www.herald.ie/news/metro-north-and-dart-underground-schemes-are-axed-2846703.html. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  2. ^ "Government cancels Metro North and Dart underground plans". http://www.thejournal.ie/government-cancels-metro-north-and-dart-underground-plans-200225-Aug2011/. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  3. ^ "Metro, DART projects put off in plan". http://www.rte.ie/news/2011/1110/budget-business.html. Retrieved 2011-11-10. 
  4. ^ "Airport Metro link plan suspended". http://www.independent.ie/breaking-news/national-news/airport-metro-link-plan-suspended-2887073.html. Retrieved September 25, 2011. 
  5. ^ RTÉ News: Metro to run underground at Ballymun
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ The Dublin Transport Office's Platform for Change Report
  8. ^ RTÉ News: Residents to oppose Dublin runway plans
  9. ^ Metro North: Frequently Asked Questions
  10. ^ http://www.rpa.ie/Maps/Metro%20North/February%202011/Metro%20North%20Map%200211.pdf
  11. ^ RTÉ News: Cullen announces details of Metro route
  12. ^ Metro North Route, March 2008
  13. ^ http://www.rpa.ie/en/projects/metro_north/build_and_operation_permission/Pages/default.aspx
  14. ^ http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/0302/metro.html
  15. ^ RTÉ News (July 10, 2006), Warning on metro airport location
  16. ^ RTÉ News: Metro to run underground at Ballymun
  17. ^ Irish Times: Greens want Metro extended to Beechwood
  18. ^ Metro cost falls by one-third: Final bill will come in at €2.5bn if light-rail project approved
  19. ^ Metro mania: the €2.5bn plan to create 4,000 jobs
  20. ^ Irish Times: The tearing of the Green
  21. ^ Metro North Myths And Facts
  22. ^ Metro North Myths And Facts (PDF Document)
  23. ^ Metro North Route Map February 2011(PDF Document)
  24. ^ "Metro North and Dart Underground deferred". http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2011/1110/breaking21.html. 
  25. ^ Irish Times: Dempsey unveils Metro West route
  26. ^ RTÉ News: Clondalkin wins out on Metro West route
  27. ^ RPA - METRO ORBITAL (Metro West) Design Update No. 1
  28. ^ "DART Interconnector". Irish Rail. http://www.irishrail.ie/projects/dart_underground.asp. Retrieved 2009-08-13. 
  29. ^ "Dublin Metro North and Metro West, Republic of Ireland". http://www.railway-technology.com. http://www.railway-technology.com/projects/dublin-metro/. Retrieved 2009-07-24. 

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