by James Scannell

In February Dublin City Council came in for criticism for causing traffic gridlock at College Green, a major city traffic intersection, and at the north and south sides of O’Connell Bridge spanning the River Liffey which flows through the middle of Dublin, due to programming problems with traffic lights which at times left Luas Cross City line streetcars stuck on yellow box junctions (Editor’s note: drivers may only enter a yellow box junction if their exit is clear; it is not permitted to stop in the yellow box.) blocking traffic flows. Some extralong streetcars brought into service with this route had to be withdrawn due to electrical problems and it is expected that these will return to service in the near future. To avoid delays to services in the College Green area due to a combination of the Luas and automobiles, Dublin Bus has re-routed many of its services around this area in order to maintain schedules.

At the end of February, Met Eireann, the national weather service for the Republic of Ireland, advised the government of a major weather event expected to pass over the country on March 1st and 2nd bringing with it large snow falls due to two weather systems colliding with each over Britain and Ireland. Known popularly in the media as ‘The Beast from the East’, the Irish government’s National Emergency Co-ordinating Committee was convened and on Tuesday February 27th issued a status ‘Red’ weather warning advising everyone to be indoors by 4 p.m. on Thursday March 1st and to remain indoors for at least 24-hours until the weather front had passed over Ireland. The public was warned that all forms public transport would cease at 2 p.m. that day and not resume until it was safe to do so. Overnight snow falls on Wednesday February 28th created difficulties for road transport operators with a status ‘Orange’ weather warning for that day being elevated to ‘Red’ later in the afternoon as the storm approached. On Thursday March 1st all public transport operations nationally ceased at 2 p.m. as people retreated indoors in accordance with government instructions to do so while the Irish television networks devoted extensive coverage to the landfall of the storm in Co. Kerry and its progression diagonally across Ireland over the next 24 hours. While some parts of Ireland experienced heavy snowfalls, bus and rail operations were able to resume operations the following day once it was safe to do so though Luas operations in the Dublin area remained suspended for the day until a full safety check of the system was carried out with full rail, bus and Luas services resuming on Saturday March 3rd.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) have announced details of the Emerging Preferred Route for MetroLink, the metro service that will run from Estuary, north of Swords, Co. Dublin, to Sandyford, Co. Dublin, on the southside, serving Dublin Airport and Dublin City Centre.

The Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area (2016-2035) envisaged a rail link from the south city centre to Swords on the northside and the upgrading of the existing Luas Green Line to metro standard, which would link up to the metro services running north to the airport and beyond, to provide Dublin with “a high capacity, highfrequency cross-city rail corridor”.

Under the National Development Plan 2018-2027, Metro North and Metro South will now proceed as a single project known as Metro- Link. Consultation on the project commenced in March with a series of information events for communities along the route in areas such as Swords, Ballymun, Glasnevin, Dublin City, Ranelagh, and Leopardstown.

According to National Transport Authority CEO Anne Graham, “There are very significant benefits associated with MetroLink, particularly in terms of the integrated transport system that it will bring about for Dublin. For example, thanks to MetroLink, there will finally be a rail link to Dublin Airport, and with easy interchange with other modes including bus, Dart and commuter rail, MetroLink will make it easier than ever to move into and around the capital. There will be 25 stations in total, 15 of them brand new, so it will also make sustainable transport a viable option for more and more people in areas like Swords and Ballymun. We have modeled future passenger numbers and predict that capacity for 15,000 passengers per direction per hour during the busiest peak times will be required along this corridor. We don’t believe that a bus system or a standard Luas line would be able to accommodate that number of passengers and that is why MetroLink makes so much sense. MetroLink will have the capacity for 30 trains per hour in each direction, so there is no doubt that it will greatly enhance the public transport offering in Dublin. In addition, we envisage the creation of about 4,000 jobs during construction, which is very significant for the economy in the region.”

The anticipated timeline is: 2018 Consultation on Emerging Preferred Route; 2019 Application for a Railway Order; 2020 Granting of Railway Order; 2021 Construction commences; 2027 MetroLink commences operations.



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Revised: May 2018