THIS first glimpse of the new underground Metro stations reveals a modern, sleek design at odds with reports anticipating dull, grey bunkers.
Commuters using Metro North can expect to be "amazed" at the size of the eight underground stations when it opens for business in 2013.
Contrary to suggestions the stations would be dreary, bleak and predominantly grey affairs, the Railway Procurement Agency's chief architect said that stainless steel, glass and smooth concrete would be used as finishes.
"I think people will be amazed at the size of the stations. We're trying to get as much natural light in, even down to 25 metres," he added.
Today the four consortiums bidding to build the 18km line, which could cost up to €3.2bn, will be given detailed designs with a view to making bids by the end of the year.
The consortiums are Dublin Express Link, which includes SIAC, HSBC and French Metro operators Keolis; Cathro Consortium which includes Luas operator Veolia and Siemens; Metro Express which includes AIB and Sisk; and the Celtic Metro Group, which is composed of foreign operators.
The public-private partnership project will see bidders asked to tender for the design, build, funding, maintenance and operation of the line.
The journey time between St Stephen's Green and Dublin Airport will be in the region of 20 minutes and 30 minutes from St Stephen's Green to Swords.
"It's a pretty significant milestone in terms of where the project is going," a RPA spokesman said yesterday.
"They [the bidders] will be given the detail of what they're bidding for, it's the formal detailed documents."
And the project's chief architect, Jim Quinlan, has rubbished claims the stations will be dull. Artists' impressions show bright, airy stations with some natural light.
"We're not talking about bare concrete at all. It's a very high quality spec in the stations, and we are producing an architectural design guide showing materials we would like the bidder to use.
"There's a design life for 120 years for a lot of the structures, and we don't want any painted finishes because we don't want to have to redecorate every five years.
"There'll be a lot of stainless steel, glass and fair-faced concrete. We're looking at putting advertising space on the back walls, hopefully it will be electronic signage.
"We've designed the stations to cope with demand up to 2040. Some may be a little overdesigned."
He said St Stephen's Green will have a 20 metre platform, to link to the DART line being built by Iarnrod Eireann.