Metrolink: a game-changer for Dublin’s transport system?


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The €9.5bn Metrolink rail project, set to revolutionize Dublin’s public transport system, is the subject of intense debate in Ireland. At a recent oral hearing at An Bord Pleanála, Peter Walsh, Director at Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), emphasized the need for this transformative solution amidst the city’s chronic congestion.

During peak times, trains on the 18.8km railway track between Swords and Charlemont will run at a frequency of approximately one train every three minutes. With a capacity of up to 20,000 passengers per hour in each direction, the railway project could significantly alleviate traffic issues and enhance accessibility.

“Metrolink’s intervention along the Swords, Dublin Airport, Dublin city center corridor is essential to alleviate congestion, reduce reliance on private cars, and enhance public transport connectivity,” according to Mr. Walsh. He also stressed TII’s commitment to engaging with stakeholders throughout the planning process.

Controversy hounds the Metrolink

The proposed line’s potential impact on residential areas has sparked controversy, with some residents expressing concerns about demolitions, noise, and disruption. The Markievicz leisure center and eight Dublin City Council properties located on Townsend Street are slated for destruction to accommodate the expansion of the Tara Street station.

Áine Wellard, a Townsend Street resident, shared her apprehension about being displaced due to her reliance on easily accessible services for her blindness. Another inhabitant, Anne Meehan from Glasnevin, voiced frustration over the lack of engagement. According to her, the government agency’s communication had been dismissive and selective with information, with stakeholders feeling that they were only receiving information in small increments.

Declan Campbell, who spoke on behalf of the Hampstead Residents, voiced overall support for the Metrolink project. Nevertheless, he emphasized how his group had to actively request crucial details from the agency through the Freedom of Information Act.

I ask that you please not forget those who have been sacrificed or shafted for a risk benefit

Anne Meehan

The governing body’s handling of information dissemination has been criticized for being insufficient and inconsistent, leading to concerns about transparency. Another issue raised during the hearing was the project’s compatibility with existing rail systems and the national rail gauge.

Some parties advocated for improved cycling infrastructure and services as complementary solutions to the Metrolink project.

Critics, such as environmentalist Duncan Stewart, propose alternatives like extending the existing Dart system instead of building an entirely new Metrolink system. Moreover, the project’s budget and its value for money have been questioned by some experts who believe a more cost-effective alternative could address Dublin’s transport needs.

Meanwhile, Jim O’Callaghan, a Fianna Fáil TD, emphasized the importance of approving the railway application while considering conditions such as potential changes to the terminus location.

Despite criticisms, TII remains committed to reducing carbon emissions by implementing a railway line that will operate entirely on renewable energy once operational. As public consultations continue, the outcome of the railway project will be closely monitored, potentially setting a precedent for future urban development in Ireland.

Ensure all stakeholders are afforded sufficient time to consider any additional information

Peter Walsh

The Metrolink rail project, which aims to innovate Dublin’s public transport system, is a contentious issue in Ireland due to the far-reaching implications it holds for local communities, environmental concerns, and financial considerations. These aspects are currently under intense debate as stakeholders weigh the potential benefits against the challenges posed by this transformative solution.

The outcome of An Bord Pleanála’s deliberation on the Metrolink railway order carries substantial weight in Dublin’s pursuit of eco-friendly urban development and advanced transport systems. With ongoing discussions, it remains to be seen if this transformative solution for the city’s transport system will materialize or face further challenges.

The envisioned advantages of noticeably alleviating traffic congestion, considerably expanding accessibility, and fostering environmental sustainability are all prospective outcomes that hold the power to dramatically alter Dublin’s cityscape.

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