Early this year I made a submission to the Public Consultation of the National Transport Authority (NTA) on their North Dublin Transport Study. I noted then that the study areas of Dublin Bay North and Dublin North West from Drumcondra to Dublin Airport and Swords had “a longstanding profound need for a fixed line public transport system”. I argued that “the preferred option of my Dublin Bay North constituents and myself has always been for the Metro North proposal.”

Indeed in the NTA study, the ‘Optimised Metro North’ option scored very highly under the size of the catchment population, speed of journey times, land use and transport integration headings. While the capital cost of the project remained significant I argued that a Cost Benefit Analysis of the project over 30 to 50 years into the future would easily make Metro North the most desirable option offered in the NTA study. The study also included a LUAS extension from Cabra Broombridge, Heavy Rail solutions (from the Dublin / Belfast line) and Bus Rapid Transit systems. For many years, of course, the distinguished engineer Mr. Cormac Rabbitte advocated a Metro North system based on the Madrid model which would be significantly cheaper than the various NTA options and proposals.

The report today that Minister Donohue and the Government are belatedly reconsidering ‘a revised less expensive optimised’ metro system proposal from the NTA is therefore very welcome (especially given all the time and money that was wasted by this and earlier governments in failing to progress the Metro North and other Dublin transport proposals). Hopefully the first phase of works to build Metro North will now be in the 2016 Capital Programme to be presented to Dáil Éireann shortly by Minister Howlin. The cost is estimated to be below €2 billion (over a number of years) and the route would run from Swords through Dublin Airport, Ballymun, Drumcondra and O’Connell Street over to St. Stephen’s Green. It is proposed that the carriages and stations would be smaller in this revised plan (with larger LUAS-type carriages rather than DART carriages) and these aspects of the proposal need to be reviewed again. Virtually every other EU capital now has a quality Metro and fixed line public transport system. It is deplorable that Dublin’s Northside has had to wait so long for any similar development. Hopefully this reconsideration of an optimised version of Metro North is not just a General Election ploy but will begin a process to build a Northside Metro.