Transport plans for Dublin, to guide the development of €25 billion worth of infrastructure over the next 20 years, including Metrolink and new Luas lines, will be released on Tuesday by the National Transport Authority (NTA).
A year since public consultation on the NTA’s draft Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area was completed, the agency is publishing the final plan which will outline transport investment in the capital and surrounding counties up to 2042.
The final plan is expected to align closely with the draft, published in November 2021, which drew criticism from a number of quarters for the lack of urgency in its timelines for the implementation of major rail projects.
Schemes including four Luas lines, to Finglas, Lucan, Poolbeg and Bray, as well as the Metrolink and Navan rail lines were not scheduled for delivery until after 2031, with the long-promised Dart underground excluded from the 20-year programme.
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A planning application for the Metrolink line from Swords and Dublin Airport to the city was submitted to An Bord Pleanala last September, but the draft strategy suggested that instead of a future extension of the line to the south or southwest, these areas should be served by Luas lines, but not until after 2042. While planning and design work for these potential Luas routes to Tallaght/Kimmage, Tallaght/Knocklyon and UCD/ Sandyford as well as lines to Clongriffin, Balgriffin, Tyrellstown, Blanchardstown and Clondalkin is expected to be undertaken during the lifetime of the strategy, their construction is not anticipated until after 2042.
The Dart underground line, shelved a decade ago following the economic crash, which would link Heuston Station to the Dart line by tunnelling under the city via St Stephen’s Green, is also not due for development within the lifetime of the plan.
The draft plan, which was open for public consultation from November 2021 until last January, drew widespread criticism for lengthy delays in implementing new rail schemes, with a large number of the almost 900 submissions calling for an acceleration of these projects. A submission from the Office of the Planning Regulator said it was “vital” there was “significant progress” on rail and bus schemes “during the early years of the new strategy given our national commitments for emission reductions to 2030″.
City business organisations also urged an earlier implementation of these projects with Dublin Town saying it had “strong reservations in relation to the timeline for delivery” and “announcing proposed projects with completion dates after 2042 is a meaningless exercise”.
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Dublin Chamber said it “strongly recommends” the Dart underground “be reconsidered for meaningful progression during the lifetime of the strategy”. A Green Party submission noted the line had been “consigned to the category of desirable but actually unachievable national aims”.
While the central focus of the strategy, which is updated every five years, is the expansion of rail, it also sets out proposals for improving bus provision, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, as well as the road network. In its submission, Dublin Bus suggested the use of “account-based ticketing”, where passengers can pay for journeys using contactless cards or mobile devices as an alternative to the Leap card, should be introduced as “priority”.