The funding is being made as part of the government’s overall capital plan, announced this week. Major transport projects are being planned for the final three years of the seven-year programme.
Transport minister Paschal Donohoe said that almost €10bn (£7.4bn) has been budgeted for his department over the next seven years, enabling investment to in maintaining and improving public transport.
The decision to build a revised version of the proposed Metro North scheme follows a recent study undertaken by the National Transport Authority. “This will provide a high capacity public transport link along the City centre/Airport/Swords corridor which has been an objective of Government for some time,” said Donohoe.
The revised lower-cost new Metro North scheme involves a 16.5km light rail line connecting St Stephen’s Green to Swords, via Dublin Airport. It is expected that construction of the project would begin in 2021 with a view to delivery by 2026/27. Almost 8.5km of the route will run in a tunnel from St Stephen’s Green to Griffith Avenue and under the airport. It is estimated that this project will cost €2.4bn excluding VAT.
This week’s transport funding announcements also included €6bn to support the development of the road network. Funding will also be allocated for the DART Expansion project, with money allocted for the redesign of the DART Underground, which remains a key element of integrated transport for the Greater Dublin Area, he said.
Donohoe said: “This allocation of almost €10 billion for my department reflects the priority that Government places on transport and delivering a well-functioning transport system that facilitates a growing economy. By planning now for the years ahead we will ensure that the services we deliver can adequately meet our needs so that continued future economic growth is supported.”
Last year saw saw public transport usage increase by a combined 8 million passenger trips across all modes; bus, Luas and commuter rail, said Donohoe. Under the new plan, the public transport programme will reach €3.6bn over the seven years. This will allow for €2.6bn investment in essential ‘steady state’ maintenance and asset renewal, including fleet replacement and capacity enhancement, upgrading of bus corridors and completion of the Luas Cross City project in Dublin.
“Additional funding over final three years of the plan will enable major transport projects, including new Metro North and DART expansion programme, to proceed,” he added. A further €1bn will be invested to address growing congestion resulting from economic recovery and population growth. Work will include the completion of the City Centre Resignalling programme for the rail network, construction of a new central traffic control centre for commuter and intercity rail and an on-going maintenance programme.