Dublin Metro

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Dublin Metro
Location Dublin, Ireland
Proposer Transport Infrastructure Ireland
Status Currently in design phase
Type Rail
Cost estimate €2.4 billion
Start date 2021
Completion date 2027

The Dublin Metro (Irish: Meitreo Átha Cliath) is a proposed metro system for the city of Dublin. It was first proposed in the then Irish Government's 2005 Transport 21 transport plan. There are three proposed lines: Metro North, Metro South and Metro West.

Metro North (Irish: Meitreo Thuaidh) is to run from St. Stephen's Green to Dublin Airport and onwards to Swords, ending at the Broadmeadow Estuary. Its route is planned to consist of two deep bore tunnels under the airport and in the city, along with cut and cover tunneling through the main street in Ballymun along with surface running in non-built-up areas, and a number of elevated sections. Construction of the 17 km line is planned to commence in 2021 and the line is planned to begin operation in late 2026 or early 2027. The cost of the line is estimated at €2.4 billion.

On 29 September 2015, "New Metro North" was launched by the National Transport Authority. It will operate 60 metre trains, providing a passenger capacity of 9,900 passengers per hour per direction. The capacity of Metro North can be expanded beyond 9,900 passengers per hour, this will happen when the need arises to meet demand in the future. Metro North's infrastructure will be built to allow this. St Stephens Green and O'Connell Street will be the two city centre stations. They will both interchange with the Luas Red and Green lines. There will be metro trains every 2 minutes in both directions with a 19-minute journey from Dublin City Centre to Dublin Airport. It is projected that 30 million passengers will use the line every year. There will be 14 metro stations, 8 of which are underground.

Metro South involves the conversion of the Luas Green Line to a metro line to serve as a high capacity north-south rail link. The project involves the extension of Metro North's tunnels to Ranelagh to link with the Green Line. Services will run from Bride's Glen to Estuary, north of Swords.

Metro West was to run from Tallaght to Dardistown, near Dublin Airport. In 2011, it was put on hold due to funding constraints. In 2016, Metro West was excluded from the National Transport Authority's Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016-2035. The future of this project is uncertain.

In October 2016, it was reported that Metro North's trains may be automated, meaning that they would be the first driverless trains in Ireland.



  • Metro North is scheduled to open in late 2026 or early 2027.
  • Metro South is scheduled to open simultaneously with Metro North, in late 2026 or early 2027.


Before the metro system was delayed by economic and funding difficulties, the original envisaged timeline set out in the Transport 21 plan and the Dublin Transportation Office's 'Platform For Change' document was for the Metro system to be delivered in phases as follows:

History of proposed Metro[edit]

The original idea for the two Metro lines in Dublin can be attributed to the November 2001 "Platform for Change" report by the Dublin Transportation Office (now part of the National Transport Authority).[2] The purpose of the report was to come up with an integrated transportation strategy for the greater Dublin region. In its report, the DTO outlined plans for three Metro lines. The first was a North-South line which would run from Swords to Shanganagh via Dublin Airport, Finglas, Broadstone, the city centre, Ranelagh, Sandyford and Cherrywood. The second would link Tallaght West to Tallaght and then continue through the south-western suburbs of Dublin to the city centre. The third line would run in an orbital pattern, with a spur off the Swords-Shanganagh line at Finglas and then continue via Blanchardstown and Clondalkin to Tallaght, where it would connect with the other line.

Dublin Airport carried over 21 million passengers in 2006. This figure was projected to grow exponentially (as it did to 27.9 million by 2016).[3] As a result, the now defunct Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) identified a medium-capacity public-transport link to Dublin Airport as one of the most important gaps in the Dublin rail network. Two options were seen as a solution to the problem:

  • A spur off the existing DART line to Dublin Airport, as proposed by Iarnród Éireann.
  • A metro system, running from Finglas through Dublin Airport and on to the city centre, in line with the NTA's suggestions.

The metro option emerged as the preferred option, as it provided both an airport link and a commuter link. It was described by the RPA as "an important commuter link for the communities and institutions of North Dublin City and County".[4] Metro North (from Swords to St. Stephen's Green) and Metro West were adopted as government policy with the launch of the Transport 21 programme in 2005.

Metro North[edit]

Metro North[5]
AirportAirport interchange
DardistownLuas Parking
Dublin City University
Griffith Avenue
DrumcondraIarnród Éireann
O'Connell StreetLuas
St Stephen's GreenLuas


Three potential routes for Metro North were published by the Railway Procurement Agency in February 2006. The first route option went through Finglas and made used of the former Broadstone railway alignment. The second route option went through Ballymun and was eventually adopted as the final route. The third route option went through Whitehall. After public consultation, the RPA announced in October 2006[6] that they had selected a routing known as the 'East/Central Combined Route'. that ran through Ballymun. A slightly updated route, with changes in proposed station names, some modifications to station locations, and details of proposed overground and underground routes through Swords was released by the RPA in March 2008.[7]

The metro line will begin at an underground station in St. Stephen's Green in the city centre. It will continue north and run underground through a 7 km long tunnel. Stops along this tunnel will be O' Connell Street, Mater, Drumcondra and Griffith Avenue. It will continue in cut and cover tunnel through Ballymun, with two more stops at Dublin City University and Ballymun town centre. The line emerges from tunnel north of Ballymun at the Northwood stop after which it crosses over the M50 motorway to another surface stop at Dardistown (previously referred to as Metropark) where there will be a 300 space Park and Ride facility. The Metro North maintenance depot will also be located at Dardistown. From here, the line continues into a 2.3 km bored tunnel under Dublin Airport with a stop at the airport serving Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Short cut and cover underpasses will be used in parts of the track approaching Fosterstown station and after Swords stop. Elevated tracks will also be used here. Following Swords, the metro will terminate north of Swords at Estuary Stop.

The total route length will be 16.5 km of which over 10 km will be in tunnel. Metro North will have a design capacity of 9,900 passengers per hour, based on one 60 metre train every 2 minutes. The capacity can be expanded in the future in order to meet demand when the need arises. Metro North's infrastructure will be built to allow this. Park and ride facilities are planned for Fosterstown and Dardistown. There will be bus interchanges at most stops, while there will be rail interchanges at Drumcondra and St. Stephen's Green (following the completion of DART Underground). The Luas will interchange at O'Connell St. and St. Stephen's Green.

Planning and Procurement Process[edit]

On 22 March 2007 the Railway Procurement Agency began the procurement process for Metro North. In October 2007 it announced that it had a shortlist of four consortiums interested in building Metro North. Draft Environmental Impact Statements were published in early 2008.

On 17 September 2008, the RPA applied for a railway order to An Bord Pleanála.[8] Oral hearings were heard during 2009 and 2010.[9]

In July 2009, the RPA narrowed down the list of bidders to two groups: Celtic Metro Group and Metro Express.

On 5 October 2011, Metro North was granted planning permission by An Bord Pleanála, the planning permission expires in 2021.


On 20 April 2007 RTÉ News reported that the decision to have elevated tracks between Dublin City University (where the underground section ends) and the airport (where it goes underground again) have been scrapped due to many complaints about noise and visual pollution that this would bring.[10] Residents associations in the Whitehall, Glasnevin and Ballymun areas had campaigned for the cut and cover option (which creates the least long-term obstruction) as the deep-bore tunnel was not preferred due to its significantly higher cost. The underground track will run underground from St Stephen's Green to north of Ballymun and surface at the Northwood stop before crossing the M50 and going underground again under Dublin Airport.

There was initially concern expressed by the Dublin Chamber Of Commerce over the location of the Dublin Airport station, as the initial station proposal was located 2 kilometres away from the two airport terminals, at the Radisson BLU Hotel. However, the airport station location was changed to underneath the airport in a tunnel, at the Ground Transportation Centre (GTC), which is merely a few minutes walk from both Terminal One and Terminal Two.


The cost of the project was estimated by then Minister Eamon Ryan at '€2.5 to 3 billion' on RTÉ's Prime Time programme on 21 October 2010.[11] This means that each kilometre of track would cost approximately €137 million.[12][13]

Transport Infrastructure Ireland revised their business case for Metro North in December 2010. The revised version[14] estimates an internal rate of return of between 8.4% and 12.34%. The Benefit Cost ratio is estimated at between 1.46 and 1.89. The business case assumes that Metro North would carry 33.3 million passengers annually and that ticket revenue will be sufficient to cover operational costs. On 22 September 2011, the Minister for Transport estimated that costs incurred to date on the Metro North project were €151m.[15] The business case estimates that the Net Present Value of the project is €1bn.

The European Investment Bank has agreed to lend €500m[16] to part finance the project. The intention is to fund the rest of the project through a combination of state funding and a Public Private Partnership. The PPP element is expected to be greater than €1bn.[17] The Minister for Transport has drawn attention to the difficulty in obtaining PPP finance for Ireland due to the country's weakened credit rating following the financial crisis and IMF intervention.[18] The minister also speculated that funding may come from a sovereign wealth fund or from the National Pension Reserve Fund via the National Development Finance Authority.


It was speculated by the media that the Metro North Project along with the DART Underground project would both be indefinitely deferred on 12 August 2011 following a review by Leo Varadkar, then Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. This was confirmed on 10 November 2011.[19]

Railway Order for Maintenance Depot Granted and Enabling Works 2012[edit]

A Railway Order for Metro North's tram and infrastructure maintenance depot was granted on 5 October 2011 by An Bord Pleanála. The maintenance depot will be located at the Dardistown Metro North stop.

The RPA secured funding to start some of the enabling works on the future Mater Metro North stop. The enabling works involve building an eighty metre long underground diaphragm wall (D-Wall) on the grounds of the Mater Hospital Campus. The D-Wall was also built to facilitate the opening of the Mater Adult Hospital in 2012.

2015 Project relaunch and recommencement of design work[edit]

On 29 September 2015, it was announced that Metro North was to proceed, with construction beginning in 2021. A number of changes to the original scheme, including shorter platforms, fewer stations and more overground running will help cut costs for the project.

Design work for Metro North has since recommenced.

The public consultation process for Metro North will begin in 2018. A Railway Order for the line is expected to be lodged in late 2018.

Commencement of tender process[edit]

On April 12th 2017, Transport Infrastructure Ireland issued a tender for a concept architect for Metro North. The winner of the contract is to develop an architectural vision for Metro North. The contract is for a duration of 15 months, beginning in August 2017.[20]

On August 18th 2017, The National Transport Authority and Transport Infrastructure Ireland issued a tender for engineering design services for Metro North. The winner of the contract will be tasked with progressing the Metro North project from the concept design stage, through the planning process to the construction stage.[21]

On September 11th 2017, Transport Infrastructure Ireland issued a tender for a Stakeholder Management Engagement System (SEM) for New Metro North.This is needed to ensure a good relationship between TII and all relevant stakeholders in the New Metro North project. It is anticipated that there will be roughly 8,000 stakeholders involved during the New Metro North project.[22]

Metro South[edit]

In 2006 Eamon Ryan, then transport spokesperson for the Irish Green Party, called for the underground section of Metro North to be extended south to Beechwood, where it would then surface and provide a direct link to the Luas Green Line.[23] This option would allow passengers to travel from the south of the city to the north, without having to change mode of transport. It is also consistent with the Dublin Transportation Office's suggestions in the Platform for Change document, which envisaged that a Metro line would run across the city following the upgrade of the Green Line to Metro by 2020.

When the Luas Green Line was constructed, it was designed to allow metro trains to operate on the line in the future. The interaxis between the tracks was built wide enough to allow wider trains to operate on the line, and the line's electrical systems were designed to handle longer metro trains in the future.

In the National Transport Authority's Draft Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016-2035, it was proposed that the Metro North tunnel should be extended southwards to meet the Luas Green line in the Ranelagh area.

As of 2017, the Luas Green line is operating at nearly its full capacity during the rush hour periods in the morning and evening, and it experiences mass overcrowding and congestion during these times. Converting the line to a metro line would assist in alleviating this congestion.

The Luas Green line would be converted to a metro line, with Luas services on the line ending and being replaced by metro services. Platforms at all stations would need to be lengthened and a number of road crossings on the line closed in order for this to happen.

This proposal is known as Metro South.

It is now anticipated that both Metro North and Metro South will be constructed as the one combined project, and open simultaneously in late 2026 or early 2027.

Metro West[edit]

Metro West
Millennium Park
PorterstownIarnród Éireann
Liffey ValleyLuas
FonthillIarnród Éireann
St Brigids
Colbert's Fort
Tallaght EastLuas

Metro West (Irish: Meitreo Thiar) was to run from an intersection with Metro North, just south of the airport at Santry, and from there pass through Blanchardstown, Liffey Valley, and Clondalkin before joining the Luas Red Line to continue towards Tallaght. Metro West was planned to be entirely above ground, at road level, with major junctions overpassed. Metro West was planned to be 25.5 kilometres long. Planning on the Metro West Project was suspended in September 2011 following a review by Leo Varadkar, then Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport as money to construct the new railway will not be available in the foreseeable future.[24] The Metro West option has been set aside until economic conditions improve.

Two potential routes for Metro West were published by the Railway Procurement Agency in January 2007, with a number of sub-options also included. Following discussions and a public consultation process, the preferred route was announced in July 2007. This route started at Tallaght, then continued on through Belgard, Clondalkin, Liffey Valley, Blanchardstown. Stops were also planned for the National Aquatic Centre and Abbotstown, before continuing in the direction of Sillogue and Harristown. Following Harristown it would link with the Metro North, after Northwood and before Dardistown station. The line was expected to be 25 km long.[25]

Although the Metro West was in the early planning stages and can change at a later stage, according to the design drawings produced by the RPA, the Metro West line would not be segregated from road traffic, unlike the Metro North proposal. Metro West will run overground, with some tunnels and bridges to avoid major road junctions.[26] The preferred route would also see a number of interchanges with other modes of public transport. As well as the link with the Metro North, the line would also link with the Luas at Tallaght and Belgard, rail services at Fonthill and Porterstown and Dublin Bus services at a number of other stops. Park and ride facilities were also proposed at a number of stops.

Route through Finglas[edit]

Metro West would serve the northern parts of Finglas via stops at the N2 and Meakstown. When developing options for Metro West, the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) considered routes south of the M50, serving Finglas more directly. These routes were not deemed feasible as they would have considerable impact on residential and commercial properties in the area, require additional bridges over the M50 and add considerable journey time to the route. It was proposed in the NTA strategy that Finglas be served by a radial light rail line. The first phase of this was outlined in Transport 21 as running to Liffey Junction.

Route selection[edit]

On 11 November 2008, the RPA chose their preferred route for Metro West, including indicative stops, depot and Park and Ride locations. The preferred route for Metro West ran from Tallaght to Metro North at Dardistown, via Clondalkin, Liffey Valley and Blanchardstown. The preferred route was approximately 25.5 km long. The planned route would interchange with (from south to north) the Luas Red Line, Kildare Railway Line, Luas Line F (to Lucan), Maynooth Railway Line and Metro North Line, as well as local bus services.[27]

Planning Process[edit]

An application for a Railway Order to construct Metro West was lodged to An Bord Pleanala on October 22nd 2010. The application was withdrawn on September 26th 2011, due to the withdrawal of Government funding for the project due to the global financial crisis.

Future of Metro West[edit]

In late 2011, the Irish Government withdrew funding for the Metro West project due to budgetary constraints arising from the global financial crisis and recession.

In 2016, Metro West was excluded from the National Transport Authority's Transport Strategy For The Greater Dublin Area 2016-2035. The future of the project is highly ambiguous due to this, as it will now not be considered for government funding until after 2035.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Metro to run underground at Ballymun". RTÉ News. 20 April 2007. 
  2. ^ The Dublin Transport Office's Platform for Change Report Archived 19 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ RTÉ News: Residents to oppose Dublin runway plans. Raidió Teilifís Éireann. (12 October 2004). Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  4. ^ Metro North: Frequently Asked Questions Archived 14 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine.. Rpa.ie. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  5. ^ Cite error: The named reference nationaltransport.ie was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  6. ^ RTÉ News: Cullen announces details of Metro route. Raidió Teilifís Éireann. (19 October 2006). Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  7. ^ Metro North Route, March 2008 Archived 30 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ "Home - Transport Infrastructure Ireland -". Archived from the original on 15 June 2011. 
  9. ^ "An Bord Pleanála considers Dublin Metro". RTÉ News. 2 March 2009. 
  10. ^ RTÉ News: Metro to run underground at Ballymun. Raidió Teilifís Éireann. (20 April 2007). Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  11. ^ [1] Archived 19 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Metro cost falls by one-third: Final bill will come in at €2.5bn if light-rail project approved. Independent.ie (9 October 2010). Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  13. ^ Metro mania: the €2.5bn plan to create 4,000 jobs. Independent.ie (9 October 2010). Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  14. ^ http://www.nationaltransport.ie/downloads/metro_north_business_case_addendum.pdf
  15. ^ Departmental Expenditure: 22 Sep 2011: Written answers. KildareStreet.com (22 September 2011). Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  16. ^ EIB agrees to €500m for Metro North – Business & Finance Archived 29 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine.. Businessandfinance.ie (22 March 2010). Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  17. ^ Public Private Partnership » Projects. Ppp.gov.ie. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  18. ^ Varadkar seeks to privatise building of Metro. Worldconstructiontoday.com (6 April 2011). Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  19. ^ "Metro North and Dart Underground deferred". The Irish Times. 
  20. ^ "Tender for concept architect for New Metro North". ETENDERS. August 23, 2017. 
  21. ^ "Tender for engineering design services for New Metro North". ETENDERS. August 23, 2017. 
  22. ^ "Tender for a stakeholder management engagement system for New Metro North". ETENDERS. August 23, 2017. 
  23. ^ "Greens want Metro extended to Beechwood". The Irish Times. 19 October 2006. 
  24. ^ "Airport Metro link plan suspended". Irish Independent. 25 September 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  25. ^ "Dempsey unveils Metro West route". The Irish Times. 5 July 2007. 
  26. ^ RTÉ News: Clondalkin wins out on Metro West route. Raidió Teilifís Éireann. (5 July 2007). Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  27. ^ RPA – ''METRO ORBITAL (Metro West) Design Update No. 1'' Archived 3 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine.. (PDF). Retrieved 15 October 2013.

External links[edit]