Closure of key railway lines during MetroLink build would cause ‘significant disruption’

Irish Rail, Dublin Airport and Mater hospital among bodies to raise concerns about development plans

supplied by Frank McDonald for oped on  MetroLink

Irish Rail has said plans to close two of its key railway lines at Glasnevin in north Dublin, one for at least 21 months, during the construction of MetroLink, are unacceptable.

In its submission on MetroLink, Irish Rail said it “is firmly of the view” that the closure of the lines to facilitate the building of a new underground station at Glasnevin was “excessive” and would cause “significant disruption to passenger, freight and maintenance services”.

The two lines in question are the former Midland Great Western Railway and the Great Southern and Western Railway lines, which will both traverse the route from Dublin’s Connolly station in the vicinity of Cross Guns Bridge and the Royal Canal when the new Glasnevin underground station is built.

Under Transport Infrastructure Ireland plans to build the new Glasnevin station the lines would close for 21 months and five months respectively, Irish Rail said.


In the company’s submission to Bord Pleanála, Irish Rail chief executive Jim Meade said by the time MetroLink goes to construction it is anticipated the electrified Dart + West to Maynooth will be in operation and Dart + South West to Celbridge will be under construction.

Irish Rail was supportive of MetroLink he said, but “electric and diesel trains will need to be accommodated through Glasnevin, as will access to the Maynooth depot to stable and maintain trains during the MetroLink construction process”. Mr Meade also told Bord Pleanála that Irish Rail “requires” developer Transport Infrastructure Ireland to minimise impacts on Irish Rail services and infrastructure in the vicinity of Dublin’s Tara Street Station.

Dublin Airport has also raised issue with the proposed metro, calling for the creation of an aerial walkway to prevent the construction of the Airport Station blocking access to either terminal. The Dublin Airport Authority said it also wanted the underground station to be solid enough to support a multistorey building above it. It said airport security plans as well as construction plans would have to be preapproved by the airport authority.

The Department of Housing raised issues in relation to St Stephen’s Green, the ownership of which is vested in the Minister for Housing but the day-to-day running of which is carried out by the OPW on behalf of the Minister for Finance. The department told Bord Pleanála the plans would “impact on the amenity and function of the Green as a State park”.

The department also raised concerns about the development of a station at the eastern side of St Stephen’s Green and recommended “careful consideration” be given to “alternative station locations” which were outlined in the environmental impact assessment. The department said construction seemed to have been prioritised over the effects on the green, both long term and operationally.

The department also expressed concern over protected structures including Lissenhall Bridge and the national monument that is comprised of a number of houses at 14-17 and 8-9 Moore Street among others. It said the plan had “not adequately evaluated the architectural heritage of Santry Lodge”. The department would also “welcome further consideration of the design strategy” for MetroLink.

The Mater hospital submitted concerns about the building of an underground station on a small, triangular park to the front of the hospital. The submission said the hospital’s emergency department had 73,000 visits from patients in 2021, and it was very important that construction of the railway would not impede access to the hospital. The submission noted that the psychiatric unit and the National Isolation Unit were close to the station site and served patients who were “potentially the most sensitive to disturbance”.

Dublin Chamber of Commerce said it supported the metro but it was “not acceptable that key infrastructure routes through the city core” would be closed to traffic for long periods. The chamber asked what plans for public transport would be put in place.

The Abbey Theatre complained of a lack of consultation on the plan while the Irish Georgian Society said it was important that the “correct construction advisers and policies” were employed. The submissions were published on the Fingal County Council website in recent days.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist