Monday, 23 April 2007

Cullen's underground 'u-turn' on Metro rail-line will cost the taxpayer an extra €200m

A NEW plan to make the Metro rail-line run underground at a north Dublin station will cost taxpayers an extra €200m.

Ballymun residents were celebrating last night after the Government abandoned plans to put the line on stilts through their area.

Residents and politicians welcomed the "u-turn" by Transport Minister Martin Cullen and said it was a victory for people power. But officials involved in the Metro construction revealed that the plan to bore a 'cut and cover' opening in the ground will cost around €200m extra. The Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) unveiled the revised plan yesterday following consultation with local people.

The decision to axe the original plan followed local opposition to the agency's proposal to put the rail-line on stilts.

Residents in the area submitted an objection signed by 1,000 local people to the agency and Mr Cullen's office earlier this month.

They claimed the rejuvenated area would suffer traffic congestion if the line went overground and the rail-line would divide the area in two.

The new plan means that the Metro line will run uninterrupted below the ground from a terminus at St Stephen's Green until it emerges at Santry.

A spokesperson for the RPA said yesterday: "The minister indicated yesterday that extra monies were available as part of the Transport 21 plan."

Metro North is scheduled for completion in 2013 and will run from St Stephen's Green to Swords, through Dublin Airport. The city-centre section will be a deep-bore tunnel. It had been planned to run the line overland (on stilts or at ground level) from Dublin City University onwards.

Labour's spokesperson on Transport Roisin Shortall said Mr Cullen had been forced into a "significant volte face" on the issue.

He had repeatedly told her in the Dail, as recently as three weeks ago, that the Metro would not go underground through Ballymun.

Mr Cullen's spokeswoman denied any u-turn. She said the decision had been made by the RPA after an extensive consultation with locals.

Anne-Marie Walsh
Irish Independent

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