The government has not decided to delay construction of the Metrolink until 2027, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation.
However, he is unable to say when construction of the project will begin.
It comes after Labor TD Duncan Smith yesterday asked Transport Minister Eamon Ryan for urgent clarification on MetroLink metro plans to Dublin Airport after it was reported that the project could now be delayed for seven years .
Today, a spokesperson for Mr Ryan’s department said his intention is for construction to begin during the life of this government, but that requires a building permit and the necessary government approvals.
Irish Sunday Mail reported that construction of the Dart Plus electrification of the coastal railway line to Balbriggan and the underground MetroLink may not begin until 2027.
This would mean that the Dart Plus might not be ready until 2032 and the MetroLink until 2034.
Although the Ministry of Transport said today that the government has made no decision to postpone construction until 2027, a spokesperson added that “the exact start date will depend on the granting of the building permit and of the government’s decision under the public expenditure code “.
The ministry said the program faces two important and looming milestones over the next few months that will determine MetroLink’s progress in the years to come.
The spokesperson added, “First, there is government approval at decision gate 1 of the public expenditure code, to allow the project to enter the planning system.
“Second, the finalization of the complete documentation required to file an application for a railway order at An Bord Pleanála.
“Work is underway on these two elements and substantial progress is expected in the coming months, with the request for a railway ordinance due to be finalized by the first quarter of 2022.”
Mr Smith said yesterday that MetroLink is vital to getting the economy back on its feet after the pandemic while meeting Ireland’s climate reduction targets.
“It would be simply unacceptable for the MetroLink project to be delayed until 2034,” he said.
“We need this project for the people of North Dublin and Swords, and for the whole country.
“An affordable light rail link will not only reduce traffic between Swords and the city center, but the MetroLink will also allow residents to move quickly, cheaply and in a sustainable manner. “
He said transportation emissions had declined only slightly by 0.3 pc in the past year during Covid-19 lockdowns and when people were encouraged to work from home.
“We are still far too dependent on passenger cars as the primary mode of transport in many parts of the city, especially in my own constituency of Dublin Fingal where public transport options may be limited,” he added.
“In addition to the urgent need for sustainable public transport, MetroLink practical sense. There is a huge infrastructure deficit on the M1 corridor and we are likely to see traffic come back bumper to bumper once all the workers are back in the office.