The National Development Plan (NDP), launched earlier this year by the Government as part of Project Ireland 2040, includes a clear commitment to develop Metrolink. This brings together into one new project both the Metro North and the Metro South projects which were envisaged under the National Transport Authority's (NTA) Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) 2016-35.
MetroLink will provide Dublin with a high capacity, high frequency cross-city rail corridor, serving critical destinations such as Swords, Dublin Airport, Dublin City University, Ballymun, the Mater Hospital, City Centre and existing destinations along the Luas Green Line to Sandyford. It will provide faster reliable journey times to and from these key destinations while offering interchange with other rail, DART Expansion, light rail and bus services. MetroLink will comprise of a total of 25 stations (including 15 new stations), 3,000 additional Park and Ride spaces, and a journey time of approximately 50 minutes from Swords to Sandyford.
As the Deputy will be aware, the NTA, in conjunction with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) recently launched a public consultation process on the Emerging Preferred Route (EPR) for the Metrolink. It is important to understand that the Emerging Preferred Route is the proposal identified as the likely optimal scheme from a technical design perspective, but without the benefit of public consultation and input. Therefore, the EPR is not a finalised and selected scheme; the final layout will only be determined after consideration and evaluation of the issues raised during the consultation process and, of course, the final route and layout will be subject to approval under the planning system.
The purpose of the present consultation process, that also includes public consultation meetings, is to obtain the views of the general public particularly those along the identified emerging route, and to take that input into account in finalising a selected route. Following receipt of all of the submissions, the issues and concerns identified will be carefully considered by TII and the NTA in determining the final scheme proposal and a report will be prepared on the consultation process. It is envisaged that the public consultation report will be published by the end of 2018.
The NTA and TII expect that an application for a Railway Order, comprising the final scheme design, will be submitted to An Bord Pleanála during Quarter 3 of 2019. A further public consultation will be undertaken in 2019 as part of the statutory planning consent process. This will include a report assessing the environmental impacts of the project as well as final details of any property land acquisitions needed for the scheme.
Subject to receipt of planning approval, construction of the project is expected to commence in 2021 with MetroLink open for passenger use in 2027.
I understand the concerns raised by affected stakeholders including both residents and local amenities. I believe there are many benefits the Metro project can bring. The NTA and TII, through the consultative process they have underway, are working collaboratively to address concerns identified and to develop mitigating proposals. Their aim is to find a way of delivering the MetroLink project, while maintaining good routes that interchange with other public transport and doing it in such a way that respects the social and community life of our city.