A report by the National Transport Authority has recommended that the DART Underground “represents the most beneficial public transport project within the Dublin area, with its benefits impacting over a wider area”.
The NTA report, seen by the Irish Examiner, states: “If only one of these two large projects can proceed, the better project for the region is DART Underground.”
It claims the DART Underground — a 7.6km tunnel linking Heuston Station to the city centre and Docklands area with stops at Pearse Station, St Stephen’s Green and Christchurch — would see all rail lines serving the capital fully integrated “for the first time”.
While both projects were praised in terms of their economic potential, the NTA described plans for the DART Underground as “transformative”. A separate study by Indecon Consultants also concluded that the DART Underground would deliver greater transport and economic benefits than Metro North.
The NTA report was requested by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar last May as part of the Government’s capital expenditure review, published this month.
The NTA’s recommendation that the underground should be prioritised effectively means plans for Dublin Metro will be dumped, as the Government is unlikely to have finance available for both schemes.
Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin stressed that Metro North and the DART Underground were merely being deferred, rather than cancelled, due to their high cost and serious restrictions on both private investors and the Government to secure funding for such projects.
Metro North has already cost the state €150 million and it is likely to pay out a further €2m compensation to short-listed bidders, with the additional risk of related legal action.