Luas needs joined-up thinking

A guest post by Donal Ó Brolcáin

The property-induced economic crisis has given us an opportunity to scrap Metro North and the proposed Dart Interconnector, and instead expand the Luas system in Dublin. Within the next few weeks, the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) will open the Luas Green line extension to Cherrywood. This includes two fully equipped stations that will not be used. Recently, Iarnrod Eireann said it will not open a newly built station on the Kildare line. In both cases, the reason is that expected property development did not take place.

Metro North and the Interconnector are also predicated on development assumptions that no longer hold. Meanwhile, the government has dropped plans to link the two existing Luas lines for passenger services. This perpetuates the folly of the decision made in 1998 to build two separate Luas lines.

To meet the aims of government transport policy – to ensure the provision of a well-functioning, integrated public transport system that enhances competitiveness and contributes to social cohesion – I propose an integrated Luas, which would create an on-street loop around the central business district; access Dublin airport from all parts of the network, including a link to Dart; and fill the transport void in north Dublin with three Luas lines, all on the surface and cheaper per kilometre than Metro North.

Luas cannot be a network without integrating the Green and Red lines. This means a full interchange at the O’Connell Street-Abbey Street junction. This is no more radical a suggestion than the RPA-Iarnrod Eireann proposal to uproot St Stephen’s Green as part of their plans for two lines (Metro North, Dart Interconnector) underneath that part of Dublin.

Integrating the Green and Red lines needs two tracks on-street from Stephen’s Green to Broadstone, as RPA proposes. It would transfer to the unused line that joins the Western line (Maynooth, with the new Dunboyne line) at Broombridge.

Last Friday, An Bord Pleanála was due to hold a preliminary hearing on RPA’s application to build another Luas line, one that will not connect the existing lines for passenger services. The plan includes a bridge across the Liffey, joining Marlborough Street and Hawkins Street. This is silly, as it ignores the Samuel Beckett bridge, designed to take Luas vehicles. Why build yet another bridge that does not extend the Luas catchment area? Such a proposal goes against the notion of cost-effective improvement of public transport in the built-up parts of the capital.

The Docklands loop that I am proposing would use the Samuel Beckett bridge to integrate this new city quarter. Running on-street, it would connect the catchment areas of the Green line (Sandyford- Cherrywood) to the docklands, linking up the newly opened National Conference Centre, O2, Busaras, Connolly station and the Abbey theatre. It would connect the Red line (Tallaght-O2) to the south docklands, allowing easier access to the Grand Canal theatre, Shelbourne Park, the Aviva stadium, the Eye and Ear Hospital and National Concert Hall. It would require a new Dart interchange at Barrow Street on the southside, complementing Connolly Station on the northside.

The North Dublin loop would start from the joined-up Luas lines in O’Connell Street, run up Dorset Street, Drumcondra, Whitehall, Collins Avenue/DCU to Ballymun, onto the airport and back through Finglas to join the extended Green line at Broombridge. The airport can be linked to the Dart at Clongriffin, with a Luas line taking in Coolock, Beaumont Hospital and the North Fringe. That would put Dublin airport on a loop connecting it to the central business district from two directions. The airport can be also linked to the Dart at Clongriffin, with a Luas line taking in Coolock, Beaumont Hospital and the North Fringe.

Our governing classes love grand gestures, usually involving the feuding public-sector baronies of CIE companies, the RPA, National Roads Authority, local authorities, government departments and the newly created National Transport Authority. They refuse to learn from the mistakes made when railways were first built in Ireland.

Spin, hype and bluster cannot disguise the fact that quiet competence is missing. Dublin needs an integrated Luas network to show the “joined-up thinking” of which we have heard so much, and to get us out of the crisis caused by reliance on property development.

This article appeared in the Sunday Times of September 26.

44 replies on “Luas needs joined-up thinking”

something against the northside?

metro north as far as estuary is all in existing built up areas that have no other infrastructure but road [and air :)]

The LUAS just doesnt have the capacity for a city like Dublin. It is fine for short distance between the places like the Point and James hospital, but for journeys between places like the city centre and Tallaght – it just doesnt have the capacity!

“surface and cheaper per kilometre than Metro North” Bad comparison. The southern half of the Metro North is going to be the most expensive part of the overall network, being almost completely a bored tunnel.

Cost per Kilometre of MN and the CpKM of the entire network overall are going to be two very different figures. The Metro West is overground through brownfield sites – the cost Per KM is going to be much cheaper.

To remark on CpKM of individual stretchs, without reference to the overall CpKm is not acceptable from a statistical point of view.

the writer seems to conflate the case against metro north with a case against interconnector

note to richard- does lifting from the murdoch press amount to either economic or social research?

if so taxpayer is getting little value from multi million bailout of esri pension scheme

Donal O Brolchain is a Drumcondra based activist , who contributed quite regularly to blog discussions. (I think so anyway – correction invited). The Sunday Times just published his article. Nothing really wrong with that. If not them someone else would have eventually

“Dublin needs an integrated Luas network” Dublin City Center (Drumcondra to Rathmines lets say) needs an integrated Luas Network. But the same cant be said for the greater Dublin Area. A Rapid Rail Transit (RRT) System is the only answer !

RRTs are faster and have more capacity than LRTs. The Metros and Darts are RRTs.

@acknefton – you seem to have missed that this is a guest post. As it happens I looked at the Metro-North project in a research paper last year and other colleagues including Richard did a paper on the impact of LUAS in 2008.

It is relatively straight forward to replicate the cost-benefit analysis that was done by consultants once one accepts the projected ridership figures. As I could not verify these ridership projections, I have a questionmark over the CBA (optimism bias is not unknown in such cases). In the paper I applied two alternatives to CBA which however came up with conflicting results.

The big issue though is whether there are alternatives to Metro-North that would yield higher net benefits. In that context, this guest post is interesting although of course the proposals contained in it are not costed.


Considering the underground Lines in London are now over 100 years old , it is reasonable to suggest that these infrastructures would have a life span like that.

Is it really possible to give an accurate prediction of how much benefit will accrue over a time frame like that? Surely not – ( I realise you still have to have a stab at it, either way).
Especially considering that when each line is finished, development patterns will alter its catchment area will alter accordingly.

@Kevin O’Brien – you are right that these infrastructures have a longer life than is usually incorporated in CBA (but keeping the infrastructure in good condition for this length of time is certainly not costless – I must have a look at the ongoing maintenance and upgrading costs of the Underground). However, that should not mean that we simply ignore proper evaluations when we make decisions.

The question remains – given a set of objectives, what is the most efficient way to meet the objectives – this should be a standard consideration in any public expenditure decision (this is our money after all) but especially now when funds are going to be borrowed at excessive rates.

I am not sure that Metro-North is the most efficient way to achieve the objectives (to assess this we would need a comparison with alternatives such as those proposed by Donal), and I am pretty certain that Metro-West is not (there are two existing rail lines running close and parallel to the proposed Metro-West – why do we need a third??).

Fair enough! I do think that both MW and MN should go ahead, as part of a proper RRT system for Greater Dublin, but I concede that they dont necessarily need to be the first two routes to be built.

To achieve a daily ridership of 1.5- 2 million (what we should be aiming at), we would need other routes.

I briefly discussed this with another poster duing the “wasting money on roads” discussion (August 25th).

“Just to confirm: there are two suggested Park metro routes. They appear only in discussion boards, but I think they are quite good.
One is from Inchicore northwards to the Phoenix park stations , up to Cappagh , through Dardistown, and east to Coolock. Dardistown would be the depot, and is also a stop for Metro North.
Additionally the route may be extended from Inchicore southwards at a later date.
The other is the current Phoenix park tunnel, with the route heading west out to the suburbs rather than to Heuston. Essentially this mean another tunnel under the park, but it can be built using “cut and cover”.
The Islandbridge platforms would be the intended depot.
This is working on the assumption that most of the necessary underground elements can be build using “cut and cover” , which is presumably cheaper than boring. ”

Not costed either, but the idea is that is as cheap as possible, and using as much legacy infrastructure as possible. As you correctly point out – high borrowing costs should not be ignored.

My thoughts:

A rail link to the airport is very important. Most airports have dedicated heavy rail links (Schipol, Berlin SXF, Gatwick, Stansted, Bruss, etc). There are few examples of metros to airports (London LHR Piccadily line). Even better is to integrate the airport into the rail network, rather than having a stub terminus.

Tunnelling is very expensive. With the current fiscal constraints, I feel cheaper alternative solutions must be considered.

I suggest a heavy rail link to the airport, preferably off the Dub-Belfast line. Or even better, re-route the Dub-Belfast line to serve the airport and Swords. If capacity at Connoly is a problem, then consider Docklands as a terminus.

Regarding north Dublin city, I suggest an expansion of the Luas tram network, with several lines, linking with the Maynooth rail line and serving DCU, Ballymun, etc.

The fact that Metro North goes through the Airport is not as hugely relevant as people seems to make it. The MN is not “just” for the Airport (which isn’t a terminus). It connects the suburbs and dorm towns in North county Dublin with the city centre.

The majority of intended users are likely to be commuters, going to and from work on a daily basis. Only a minority are likely to be using it for travelling to and from the airport specifically.

In light of that – a heavy rail infrastructure specifically for the Airport is not a great idea at all.

Further to that – the MN route will beget a second line across the north of Dublin city centre. Lets say from Coolock to Tyrellstown, intersecting the MN at Dardistown. This will link more suburbs with the city centre quite cost effectively.

Bums on seats! That’s the ticket! So where are these ‘bums’ going to emerge from? Oh I know: Dublin Bus is to be wound down! Frees up loads of road space – no more Lana Busanna! Redundinize (sic) all those pesky drivers. Great! Cyclists’ wonderland.

Back to basics lads. You move the population (as much of them as will go) in toward the centre. Costs are probably similar. Now consider your public transport options again.

@ RT: “Our governing classes love grand gestures, usually involving the feuding public-sector baronies of CIE companies, the RPA, National Roads Authority, local authorities, government departments and the newly created National Transport Authority. They refuse to learn from the mistakes made when railways were first built in Ireland.”

Richard, its the 1% paradox. If ‘they’ know with 100% certainty that they are Right – but we know with 101% certainty that they are Wrong. ‘They’ will plough us under. Simple as that.

Brian P

I still think it’s a bad idea to mix travellers with bags, etc. with commuters. Very few airports have commuters on their trains. OK, from Paris CDG, the RER line B trains do stop on the way to Gare du Nord. But in most airports, the train travels mostly direct to the central station.

With 20m pax and thousands of workers, I feel there is enough traffic for dedicated trains, say 3-4tph. Or maybe a mix of non-stop trains to terminus and stopping trains.

A 2-4km branch off the mainline, or a 4-track re-routed mainline should be so much cheaper than the MN.

I see what you are saying, but the thing is that I dont think building a dedicated airport branch line is a good idea. Commuter transit is what needs to be looked at first.

I agree that the cost should be a factor – but whatever is built needs to be used. I dont think a spur off the DART, as you describe it, will have a daily rider to justify the cost.

As regarding re-routing the mainline past the airport? Not a bad idea – but it is a good bit out of the way of the mainline. I dont think that would be cheap at all.

@Kevin O’Brien
At 3%, the present value of $1 benefit 100 years from now is about $0.05. At 6% (like today’s yield on Irish bonds) it is about $0.003.

Thanks PL

The thing is that Deterministic Cash Flow Analysis is only part of the overall picture.

The LUAS green line is 95% on reserved track and as such it can have long trams at high frequency, with problems on arising at a few level crossings. On street running is a different type of use. Proposal to extend the green line on street run the risk of compromising its potential high capacity by limiting it to configurations which are suited to the 10% or so of the line that would run on the street.

I am taking the liberty of a long response – involving as it does some war tales, since the first response harked back to the original appalling decision to build two non-interconnected LRT/LUAS lines.

At the outset, let me say that I favour a complete recasting of the public transport services in the Greater Dublin Area based on as much street-running light rail as possible on key arteries, supplemented by a completely redesigned bus services complementing this LRT system as it should the DART and other heavy rail systems.

In another thread, I did refer to the fact that CIE/Bus Atha Cliath does not think or act like that ( Perhaps the National Transport Authority will surprise us, but I am not holding my breath!

In this context, there is a public transport void in North Dublin, which Metro North will not fill. In my submission to An Bord Pleanala on Metro North, I suggested that we in North Dublin need two LUAS lines and the least that can be done is to plan both at the same time.

When LUAS was being planned, the north-south pattern of people movement meant that the first line to be built should have gone from Dublin Airport through the city centre to Sandyford.

In 1996, an EU-prompted study(by Oscar Faber) on the LRT for Dublin found that there were more trip-attractors/generators per kilometre on a LRT from O’Connell Street to Ballymun than there were lines to Tallaght or Dundrum (Sandyford was added later). Now if that study had taken in the Airport, ridership would have gone up if only because of Airport based staff going to/from work to say nothing of passengers. This confirmed finding of an earlier 1990s study.

IMO, the lines to Tallaght and Dundrum were chosen because of political pressure from Mary Harney (see below) and the late Seamus Brennan who were looking after their constituencies, as Ministers are wont to do.
As regards Metro North, the first RPA recommended line did not go near Croke Park, after what we were told was two years of feasibility studies etc. The current line only emerged about 4 months after RPA had started public consultations. Ever since, I have wondered about the quality of the work RPA does in assessing likely demand. IMO, they too show all the signs of paying more attention to purely political considerations

@ Stephen McNena
Re. Airport passengers.
For whom is rail access to the airport – any airport – important?

If say business travellers make up less than 25 per cent of airport passengers (see below), they have other options eg. taxis, the private and public bus services some of which have limited stops or use the Dublin Port Tunnel.
Admittedly in places like London, Paris or Chicago- a train service (even one that stops as the RER B does) is often both faster and more reliable than taxis (given traffic jams, even on motorways), depending on which part of the city you are in. In Dublin, the Port Tunnel offers a quick route to the central business district!
If people really want a direct rail link to the Airport from the city centre, why not follow Stockholm’s example (Arlanda Express) and let the private sector build a rail link, which I gather is the only private sector railway in Sweden at present? It would be interesting to see the CBA of such a link here, given the distance between Dublin Airport and the city centre.
An alternative is to have a special tax dedicated to public transport I gather is done in some urban areas in France.

@Brian Woods
Re Bums on Seats
During the late 1990s, I tried to get a number on the likely ridership arising from passenger numbers at the airport, as part of campaigning for on street LUAS with a link to the Airport as a mutually reinforcing measure to the the Dublin Port Tunnel. I was interested in getting data about the land side origin-and-destination of Dublin Airport passengers. The best I could get then was a grid from the 1998 report of the Dublin Airport Air-Rail Link Study prepared by CIE/Aer Rianta. (To get this from the relevant Government Dept, I had to use the then little known EU Directive on Freedom of Access to Information on the Environment – as FoI was not then in force)
I reproduce here a table which I then drew up but have applied it to 2009 passengers through Dublin Airport. This risks some minor over-statement due to my not having data on transit passengers.
2009 Passengers (including transit) say 20.5m.

Purpose of Journey Business Leisure
24.4% 75.6%
Irish (11.7%) (33.3%)
Non-Irish (12.7%) (42.3%)

Origin/Destination of Air Travellers
Dublin 50.7% (say 10.4m)
Leinster 23.9%
Munster 11.7%
Connacht 7.9%
Ulster 5.8%

Dublin Area ‘air passenger'(subject to note)
Contiguous to DART network 45% (4.7m.)
Northside 15% (1.6m)
Southside 30% (3.1m)
Note. “A closer review of the Dublin area airport ‘air passenger’ traffic highlights that approximately 45 per cent of the traffic is contiguous to the DART network…Similar information is not available for ‘non-Irish’ travellers through the Airport. However, market research indicates that up to 70 per cent of foreign travellers visit Dublin at some stage of their Irish trip. A review of the 1996 Bord Fáilte approved hotels and guest houses in Dublin highlights the very high concentration of bed spaces in the central area and the south east quadrant. The distribution of beds within these areas is summarised in Table 4.2 below. It is clear from this table that the south east city centre area (Dublin 2) along with the Ballsbridge and Donnybrook areas (Dublin 4) are the prime locations in terms of accommodation availability.” (Source Air Rail link study)

Surface Access (mode of use) by Air Passengers
Private Car 67.6%
Taxi 12.2%
Bus/Coach 19.2%
Other (HGV, Motorcycle) 1%”

This data suggests that the first rail link to the Airport should be to DART (some share of 4.7m passengers), before it is split in two if/when the DART interconnector goes ahead. But such a link is not in Transport 21.

The issue is when was the last reliable survey was done of the land-side origin and destination of Dublin Airport passengers. I do not mean the kind of “synthsized data” now being used by the NRA to assess AADT.

All I could find in the Fingal CC Draft Dublin Airport Masterplan Strategic Environmental Assessment were broad generalities.
“The Greater Dublin Area accounts for most of the passengers coming to the Airport.
The North City and the South City together contribute over one-third of airport travellers. A third of passengers have their origins from the Dublin suburbs with the final third having origins in the rest of the country. The passenger trip destinations are virtually identical to passenger trip origins.”

On that basis, I assume that no more detailed data exists in the EIS studies for T2 and the new runway.

@dearg doom
Yes, the Green Line may be on reserved track, but it still does not have priority in the city centre, Ranelagh or Sandyford where it crosses streets. This slows up journey times. I suppose this pattern will continue with the extension to Cherrywood, starting with the new street level crossing in Sandyford.

Looking back, the Atkins study on underground/overground LRT options that Minister Mary O’Rourke commissioned (and committed to implement) in 1997 did suggest a core tunnel option, as part of the development of a mainly on-street LRT. This could deal with the street-running constraint, provided it continued from Broadstone, out to the Airport via the disused railway line, through Finglas to the Airport – making up the North City Loop that I referred to in my Sunday Times piece.

More history that may not be documented in government files!
Yes, the present LUAS system is the result of the then FF-PD government opting for a PD transport policy drawn up for the 1998 Dublin North By-election following the resignation of Ray Burke. The alternative was what CIE Light Rail office proposed – an integrated two line system connecting Tallaght to Sandyford.

The PD policy (their 1997 general election material did not any transport or environmental policies) document was badly-researched and ill-considered. For example, one section which was called “Economic Evaluation” did not have any single economic or financial calculation. This half-baked PD “transport policy” was written by an engineer then in state employment who would not make any changes to it once I pointed out specific errors of fact and omission that were in the document. The Dublin Chamber of Commerce strongly supported this ridiculous policy.

How clever and/or cost effective is it to build, during the first years of the 21st century, two separate lines of a light rail system, serving a city centre where the lines do not connect from day one? Metro North is yet another free-standing line, which may or may not be connected anything else. Given that one third of the present cabinet were also members of the government then, I fear that the present disconnected LUAS system is an excellent statement of what the government drive for a SMART economy will result in.

IMO, Mary O’Rourke protests too much. As the then Minister for Public Entreprise, she could have resigned from Cabinet given what she said in the Dáil on this issue on 30 September ( and 16 December 1997 ( during which discussions the PDs were silent!

Interconnector is Dublin’s Crossrail. It significantly increases inward capacity (including freeing up Maynooth line slots for Connolly) as well as bringing south inner city commuters much closer to their destinations. I don’t believe it is optional as this post suggests.

Luas was alway a waste of time and money. Fpor the few who use it and it may be to full capacity, it is a subsidized luxury. To the taxpayer, it is inefficent.

Land use.

High rise buildings are the solution. Repopulate the inner city. And decentralize what we can.

@Pat Donnelly
LUAS – a subsidised luxury compared to what?
The National Conference Centre?
Other privately-owned buildings financed by tax-breaks?
Dublin Bus? Metro in Paris? €1 fares on public transport in the south of France?
Iarnród Éireann? TGV in France? ICE in Germany?
PSO on some air corridors? on some forms of energy production – including those that are carbon intensive?

Private cars used for commuting to/from work?
How much street space is used by single occupancy cars in built up parts of the city?
Compare the amount of people that a 30m LRT vehicle takes during the AM peak (60 people seated + 175 standing) with the 6 cars(about 10 people at average occupancy rates) that occupy the same street space.

Yes, there is question about how the cost of the capital invested in LUAS is paid for as there is for the Dublin Port Tunnel and much other publicly provided infrastructure.

Is motorway building here (and anywhere else) is a subsidized luxury – to the building industry, consulting businesses, cement makers?
Within the last few weeks, the NRA stated that it was not tolling the latest section of the road to Waterford, on the basis that there is not enough traffic to justify a toll. If so, is there enough traffic to justify a motorway?
In fairness, I recall some economist querying – publicly – need for that road to be motorway standard, while the decision was being considered.

All I can say that I think that modern western economies (all without exception) are mixed, in which politics is as influential as “pure” economics, some of which looks little more than that other necessary activity, cost accounting. One well known accountant said of his profession that “it backs confidently into the future, with its eyes fixed firmly on the past”

@Land Use
High rise buildings the solution to what?
Without a balancing public open space policy, you end up with new city quarters like the Dublin Docklands, Sandyford, La Defence in Paris – any green space is what is left over once the building developers and transport “planners” have covered virtually everything in concrete.
Built up urban areas need sit-around, kick-around space – something that is noticeable by its absence in the thinking of those who advocate high rise buildings.
Compare Chicago’s Grant Park with ????? in Toronto.

Dublin is a mess. It has developed a system that transports very few people and disrupted road traffic ever since. High rise works in every other city in the world but the Irish are different!

Councillors will not make as much if citizens are more densely housed. It does not surprise me that the voters allowed a mess even with the limited high rise used. We live in 30 storey apartment blocks in Brisbane and the apartments sell for millions. But then we never dropped our interest rates below 5% retail mortgage rate …….

We are planning to double our population from its 2005 levels! Dublin is losing population with every plane and boat that leaves. Voting with their feet!


“I favour a complete recasting of the public transport services in the Greater Dublin Area based on as much street-running light rail as possible on key arteries”.

LRTs just dont have the capacity or speed to work on this scale. It is as simple as that. They might be fine for an area like Dublin City (i.e within the city councils boundaries), but just wont be useful beyond that.

A LUAS all the way out to Skerries would be too slow and carry too few commuters to make it worthwhile.

“Metro North is yet another free-standing line, which may or may not be connected anything else. ”
Considering that it connects with both proposed DARTs – it can not be described at all as “Free standing” . The MN is intended specifically toconnect with those lines, and potentially more (i.e. the MW and the hypothesized MN2 line commented upon earlier), delivering a much need RRT network for the Greater Dublin Area.

Donal O’Brolchain – your info may be out of date. You should check out what Waterfront Toronto is doing in the West Don Lands where new urban precincts are being constructed with integrated park spaces. A new stormwater treatment area is being constructed as a park rather than an industrial facility (Sherbourne Common). The new Douglas Coupland park being built for the Cityplace development is open I believe.

There is nothing stopping Pat Donnelly’s intensification dreams as long as they are accompanied by resolve on the part of planning authorities to achieve balance. Toronto shows that poor planning phases are not indicative of an inability to change that narrative.

Are you sure that Metro North connects to both proposed DARTs? The only connection I can find is with the proposed DART interconnector at Stephen’s Green.

“The Metro North line is planned to run from St Stephen’s Green via Dublin Airport to the north of Swords at Belinstown. ”
see map here
This map shows Metro North going north of Swords – with no link to Malahide, which does have a DART.
Have I missed something?

At no stage, did I propose a LUAS to Skerries. Come to think of it, how far is Citywest from O’Connell Street or Cherrywood from Stephen’s Green?

I did propose ( in 2001) that Dublin Airport be connected to the LUAS system using two connected lines -forming a loop around the North City. One of those lines was partially underground in the city centre based on the work done by Atkins at Mary O’Rourke’s behest and used the Broadstone line.

Let me be clear. I do believe that we need to use another plane for major transport arteries in much of built-up Dublin. I just think it cheaper and better to build tunnels for car traffic – much of which still goes through the city east of Heuston Station. Perhaps the DTO could provide reliable up-to-date data on this – not the kind “synthesized” mixture which NRA have been using for a few years. (see posting on The data and evidence deficit on Irelandafternama here

Living where I do (as you know) , I am concerned (but not only with those areas) with the older built up areas of the city – especially the North City – which I consider to have neglected. An example is the original DART was also meant to have an underground link (more or less along the same route as now chosen for Metro North) to the Airport from the City Centre. It was dropped, as was the original 3 line LRT plan that became LUAS.

Yes, I am not up to speed on Toronto – never having lived there. However, my view was formed by being a regular visitor (mainly downtown) during winter of 2005-6. I simply compared that part of the lakeshore with Chicago’s Grant Park, which is also near the Loop – one part of Chicago’s central business district.

Let me just add, if we can learn from other places, it is possible for us to get it right first time and not have to change the narrative – with all that means in terms of politiking, disruption and sunk costs. I believe that those of us who campaigned for the Dublin Port Tunnel as a twin-bore 4-lane tunnel got that much right – even if the tolling scheme adopted nullified some of the effects we fought for as did the cancellation of on-street LUAS through Drumcondra!!
Perhaps I expect too much?

Just to clear about my views: I agree with extending the LUAS inside Dublin City, but I am wholly unconvinced that it is of use outside the city limits. – Dublin Airport included.

“at no stage did I propose a LUAS to Skerries”
Fair enough! But we have to consider all the commuters coming from all the dorm towns, and all the attendant car journeys.

I believe that the MN connects with the Maynooth/Bray Dart at Drumcondra
and the Kildare/Balbriggan at St Stephen’s Green.
However the bottom line is that the 2 Darts and the MN are to form a contiguous network.

I think Dublin’s future development should be guided by Transit oriented development, and to do so a RRT network is crucial for a city the size of Dublin.

(as an aside – are you part of the Irish St James Group? I think I met you a few years ago)

@Mark Dowling
“Interconnector is Dublin’s Crossrail.”
It splits DART into two separate lines
1) one from Greystones through Pearse and Connolly through to Maynooth – if/when that line is electrified;
2) the other from Malahide through the proposed Tunnel to Spencer Dock, Pearse, Stephen’s Green and onto to Heuston, Inchicore.

I do not see how this brings “south inner city commuters much closer to their destinations” than the existing DART services. see here (

Does the EIS have origin&destination studies that we can rely on?

By cutting out Connolly Station for northern DART commuters, it makes the journey to work longer for some of them – probably as many south inner city commuters as will allegedly benefit from the “improvements”.

Calling it Dublin’s Crossrail may be the problem, if DART interconnector is simply a copy of Crossrail, a project for an urban area of over 10m people.

Yes, Metro North will link with the split DART lines at two points
1) Drumcondra Station for the Maynooth -Greystones DART service
2) Stephen’s Green (the proposed Malahide – Inchicore DART service.

If my origin&destination figures for Dublin Airport passengers (using 2009 data) are still valid, the possibilities are as follows
1) up to 1.6m passengers pa who live contiguous to the Northside DART line have no means of getting “home” on DART without coming into Stephen’s Green – which is not going to happen;
2) up to 3.1m passengers pa who live contiguous to the Southside DART line must travel as far as Drumcondra to get to the proposed Maynooth-Greystones DART lines – which may happen.

Given that Metro North is parallel to the mainly coastal existing heavy rail line – which includes the Malahide-Greystones DART service, perhaps you can now understand why I proposed a direct LUAS link from Dublin Airport to Clongriffin on the existing north-south Malahide-Greystones DART. Up to 4.5m passengers pa could make one DART/LUAS change at a point that serves them all.

“up to 1.6m passengers pa who live contiguous to the Northside DART line have no means of getting “home” on DART without coming into Stephen’s Green – which is not going to happen;”

I dont understand what you are getting at here? What is not going to happen ?
The St Stephen’s green station? Why wont it happen? There is no specific reason for it not to happen if the rest of the plan goes ahead.

Also you cant put that much emphasis on current population distributions, as they will be inevitable be transformed by new infrastructure.

“What is not going to happen” is that airport passengers who live near the DART on the north side of the city (1.6m by my estimate – I cannot format the mini-table in my posting above) are not going to travel on Metro North into Stephen’s Green in order to take a DART – which is the only point of inteconnection between Metro North and the proposed DART services which will arise if the DARTinterconnector project goes ahead.
It is a question of how people will behave….
Perhaps my figures are wrong? or that I have missed something?

Why not emphasise existing population distributions – based on that and established know trip attractors/generators?
The point of my article is that newly built infrastructure is NOT going to be used because the assumed “transformation” is not going to happen. That is why newly built stations (two on the LUAS line to Cherrywood and one on the Kildare line) are not being opened.

“at no stage did I propose a LUAS to Skerries”
“Fair enough! But we have to consider all the commuters coming from all the dorm towns, and all the attendant car journeys.”

Skerries is already on a heavy rail line with regular services to/from Dublin. Dunboyne now has a heavy rail link – again driven by a Minister looing after his constituency – after the same one has a motorway built to serve it.

I am not going to stop insisting that the existing built-up areas in North Dublin get the same kind of systematic attention as, Meath and south and west of Dublin are getting.
I just happen to think that Metro North is a grand gesture by a barony and that we could be better served. I have given as much data as I can muster to support my assertions. Strange as it may seem, I might even change my mind if I come across new data.

According to the MetroNorth website – there is an interchange at Drumcondra. Surely they would go there!

as per previous my comments – I dont foresee Airport traffic as being a significant part of the overall daily ridership. The fact that the MN goes through the Airport is useful, and improves the utility of the RRT network as a whole.
But an RRT network for a city the size of Dublin is desirable even if it doesnt connect with the main airport.

re: Skerries – oops! I dont know north county Dublin that well. It was used for expository purposes of a greater Dublin area town.

“I am not going to stop insisting that the existing built-up areas in North Dublin get the same kind of systematic attention as, Meath and south and west of Dublin are getting.”
Fair enough, but the 3 routes of this plan do give the northside of the City extensive RRT linkage.

“Why not emphasise existing population distributions” : We shouldn’t ignore them completely, but the fact is that they are limited in what what they can tell us about the distribution in the future, after the infrastructure is built.

Also – the massive deceleration of property development is one thing. Moving from one part of the city to another, particularly if you are renting, is another.

In fact the property collapse argument cuts both ways. It presumably will lead to an increase in the number of people renting. Renters have greater residential mobility.

Isn’t it!

A quick reminder that there is a talk in the RDS tomorrow (Thu) about “The Future of Dublin Transport” at 7pm.


I am now left with the impression that you do not fully realise that the proposed DART interconnector project will split the existing DART services into two distinct routes – as I have pointed out.

That has implications for all kinds of people.

re. Airport.
“I dont foresee Airport traffic as being a significant part of the overall daily ridership.”
You might well be right, but Airports are trip attractors/generators for at least three types of people
1) People working in the Airport – including flight crews;
2) Airline Passengers
3) Meeters/Greeters.

I do not know what you mean by significant. But just look at all the private bus operators that provide services to Dublin Airport and the amount of taxis.
So is significance in the eye of the beholder?

In short, I think you underestimate the significance of airport passengers for the ridership of public transport facilities. You are not alone in this – many people do exactly the same for all types of well-run, reliable public transport services.

DART interconnector project will split the existing DART services into two distinct routes

As per my previous comments – That is clearly the entire purpose of the Interconnector !!! Together with the MN, the intention is to build a 3 line RRT network for Dublin.

“Airport traffic being not Significant “: The proportion of the Daily ridership using the RRT for going to the Airport will be massively outweighed by ridership using it to get to work and college.
Therefore commuters are the most significant section of the overall ridership.

You are not wrong – a lot will be using it for going to the airport, but is it reasonable to think that Airport journeys will make up more than 10% of eventual daily ridership? Hardly!

Here is how €60 million can build Metro North, Metro West and and an Interconnector in 9 months.

Step 1 – Ask Yourself Why a Luas Cannot Have Rubber Wheels and then Run a Luas Down the Port Tunnel to the Airport .See a US national academy of sciences report on the bogota Bus Rapid Transit System here

Step 2 – Keep Going with the Luas / Bus-Tram from St Stephen’s Green to Heuston via St Jame’s Hospital See map here

Step 3 – Pause and Draw Breath. Did we just build The airport Metro & the Dart Interconnector?
… as well as join up the Luas lines all for the price of three bus gates, a set of traffic lights and some bus lanes.

Step 4 – Turn the Hard Shoulder on the M50 into a Bus Lane
Just like they did in Minneapolis – St Paul by only allowing buses to use the hard shoulder when the speed drops below 35 miles per hour. See report at .

Step 6 – Move Heuston Station to Park West & Run Newbridge Commuter Trains through the legendary lost Phoenix Park Tunnel to a new station at Connolly North

Step 6 – Build Connolly North: The Station That Should Have Been Built Instead of Docklands.

Step 7 – Build a real Live Metro Beside the Grand Canal. You only need a 7 meter wide alignment, so move the canal a few meters over. Okay, this costs a bit more but can be phase 2.

Step 8 – Admire Handiwork and Count the Savings.

Calculating the cost of this is quite easy.

The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy ( have created a handy cost calculator spreadsheet for bus-tram implementations. It is available at The cost will be about €60 million.

We know the current going rate for building a Luas / Metro line is €40 million per Kilometre. After the 30% recession induced discount this will be 30 million per kilometre which means the overall cost of the Grand Canal Metro line will be €330 million.

Further information on these ideas, including detailed maps, can be found at

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