Proposed Charlemont Metrolink station should be axed, says Fianna Fáil TD

Location of planned terminus would have ‘severely detrimental impact’ on surrounding residential area, Jim O’Callaghan tells hearing

The proposed Charlemont Metrolink station should be axed and the line terminated in Dublin city centre, Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan told An Bord Pleanála’s hearing on the €9.5 billion underground rail project.

The 18.8km line, is planned to run from north of Swords to Dublin Airport, then on to Ballymun, Glasnevin, O’Connell Street and St Stephen’s Green before terminating at Charlemont, with 16 stations along the route.

Mr O’Callaghan said while it makes sense to link the airport with a central transport hub, Charlemont was not in the city centre, was outside the canal, and was a most “unusual hub”.

The location of the terminus would have a “severely detrimental impact” on the surrounding residential area, he said adding: “10 million patrons a year will visit Charlemont station, that is not a tenable situation.”

Metrolink Dublin Olivia Kelly feature

It was he said clear the reason Charlemont had been chosen was to allow an eventual upgrade of the Luas Green line to metro “a future process that may happen in 20 to 30 years from now”.

The cost of running from St Stephen’s Green to Charlemont, north of Ranelagh, was €650 million he said. “The extra cost of €650 million seems to be an inordinate cost for 1km of tunnel. The only reason can be the future objective to upgrade the Green Line is a predetermined policy.”

Senator Micheal McDowell also said it was clear the Charlemont station was only selected to allow for the Luas Green line upgrade.

“Nobody with any degree of imagination would have selected that for a south city terminus, if it were not for the purpose of the south city link into the Luas. It is the most unobvious location.”

However, Mr Dowell said the underground line should not be permitted in any case, as it was a financial “black hole” which would “absorb €10-€20 billion” with the result that other capital projects would not go ahead.

Aidan Foley Metrolink project director with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) said the selection of Charlemont would still allow metro extensions to the southwest and southeast. “It can also facilitate the upgrade of the Green line,” he said.

Labour Senator Marie Sherlock said it will be “near impossible” to drive through Phibsborough village in Dublin during the height of Metrolink construction.

Ms Sherlock said she was “very passionate” in her support for the project, which she said would be “transformative and positive in taking commuters from north county Dublin off our roads”.

However, she said she did have concerns about aspects of the construction phase. There had been a “downplaying” of the effect construction traffic would have on roads stretching from Glasnevin to Phibsborough. “To my mind it would be near impossible to get cars through Phibsborough at the height of the construction project,” she said.

Ms Sherlock said local residents in these areas were also particularly concerned about the impact construction would have on their homes, most of which were more than 100 years old and did not have concrete foundations.

Mr Foley said TII would “not be found wanting in this regard”. While there was a limit on public funds, “if there is damage you will find TII very proactive in dealing with individual residents”.

Ms Sherlock added she was “very sad Hedigan’s pub had to be demolished” for the Glasnevin station and asked that some of the pub’s structure “would be relocated or incorporated into the station”.

Swords-based Labour TD Duncan Smith said he was “unequivocally fully supportive of this route”. Swords, with 60,000 residents, was “the largest town in Ireland without a rail link”, he said. It was also, he said, “a national embarrassment we don’t have a rail ink link from our national airport to Dublin city”.

Fianna Fáil TD Paul McAuliffe said while the “appetite for metro is huge” in the Ballymun area, there was also a rising apathy because of the “multiple iterations” the project had gone through. “A larger discussion could be had on why it needed such a radical redesign [from Metro North that was granted permission in 2010]. It is hard to stand over the delays and the costs.”

Economist Colm McCarthy said Metrolink would be “colossally expensive”. The benefits of the line “look to me to be insecure”, he said. “Is accessibility of Dublin Airport a big problem? No, it isn’t,” he said. “Metro, it seems to me, is a solution in search of a problem.”

  • See our new project Common Ground, Evolving Islands: Ireland & Britain
  • Sign up for push alerts and have the best news, analysis and comment delivered directly to your phone
  • Find The Irish Times on WhatsApp and stay up to date
  • Our In The News podcast is now published daily – Find the latest episode here
Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times