Metrolink extension for south of city back in frame in new transport plan for Greater Dublin

An extension of Metrolink to serve a wider population of south Dublin will be considered under the new transport strategy for Dublin and surrounding counties.

he light rail line project is currently sketched to run from outside Swords in north Co Dublin to near Ranelagh south of the city centre.

Calls to let it run further south previously failed to gain traction, but the new 20-year Greater Dublin Area (GDA) Transport Strategy published by the National Transport Authority (NTA) puts the idea back in the frame.

“In reviewing and updating the Transport Strategy, which takes place every six years, the NTA will assess the requirement to provide additional Metro lines in the GDA,” the strategy says.

Assessment would be “based on updated forecast demand for travel and on emerging significant changes in land use and spatial policy”, it says.

It would include “previously considered options to extend Metrolink southwards towards UCD, or along the existing Luas Green Line, or towards South West Dublin”.

Metrolink is currently seeking a railway order, the equivalent of planning permission, after plans were submitted at the end of last year.

The GDA transport strategy reaffirms commitments to seeing the project built, presuming permission is granted.

It also recommits to seeing through all elements of the extensive reorganisation of bus services under the BusConnects programme; Luas extensions to Finglas, Lucan, Poolbeg and Bray, and 100km more electrified rail under the Dart+ programme.

New projects in the strategy include a rail line to Navan, the further extension of Dart+ and the electrification of rail lines to Wicklow, Sallins and Kilcock.

Eight additional Luas extensions will also be designed to reach Clongriffin, Balgriffin, Tyrellstown, Blanchardstown, Clondalkin, Kimmage, Knocklyon and UCD although, with planned expenditure over the lifetime of the strategy capped at €25bn, it is not intended any physical work would begin on these projects until after 2042.

The strategy also places heavy emphasis on active transport with extensive cycle networks and wider, better lit and less cluttered footpaths.

But it says the provision of greater public and active transport options alone will not bring about the dramatic shift in transport habits the GDA needs to meet climate action targets.

Modelling shows that based on new infrastructure and services alone, cars would still be used for 48.6pc of journeys by 2042, a modest decrease on the 57.7pc current share.

Achieving a greater switch away from cars will require new developments to be built with little or no car parking spaces, existing car parking to be reduced, greater reallocation of road space to active and public transport, more pedestrianisation, pedestrian priority at traffic lights, new tolling, zonal or congestion charges, and pay-by-kilometre road pricing.

Anne Graham, chief executive of the NTA, said the strategy had the potential to be truly transformative for the region.

“We want to provide more people with better public transport and active travel alternatives so that communities across the region can thrive and develop in a sustainable way in the years and decades ahead,” she said.

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan added: “This new GDA strategy when delivered will bring back the sort of comprehensive rail network we had at the start of the last century but it will be cleaner, faster and better value for money.”

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