The Irish government has given the green light for a €9.5 billion (US$9.67 billion) rail project that Transport Minister Eamon Ryan says will provide over a billion carbon-neutral, fully electrified passenger trips by 2050.
The MetroLink service is set to be 19.4 kilometres in length, operating mostly underground across 16 stations that will connect the north and south of Dublin.
Trains will run every three minutes during peak periods, which can be increased to every 90 seconds by 2060, and will be capable of carrying 20,000 passengers per hour.
“MetroLink is a once-in-a-generation project that is going to massively transform the public transport system in our capital city,” said Minister Ryan.
“This project in various guises has been on the table now for two decades, but the government’s decision on the MetroLink Preliminary Business Case marks a significant milestone.
“Now this exciting transport megaproject starts to become a reality. We are giving the green light to a transport system that will be integral to the city and the country’s sustainable development in this century, and into the next.”
Ireland is one of the few European countries without a metro service.
The MetroLink project, first mooted in 2000, has been a source of controversy due to a series of delays by successive governments.
Initially the line was estimated to cost €3.5 billion, but costs are now expected to reach between €7.16 billion and €12.25 billion, with the government announcing a €9.5 billion credible cost estimate.
Despite these projections, the Irish Tánaiste (Deputy PM) Leo Varadkar said that there was an “extreme case” which could cost up to €23 billion.
The project is expected to receive 75 percent of its financing from the government, while the rest would come from public-private partnerships.
Under current plans, construction is forecast to begin in early 2025, with services set to start in the early 2030s.
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