The government looks set to dramatically scale back the €1.2 billion Metro North project linking Dublin city to the airport, and is also poised to axe the proposed Metro West project.
The move follows discussions between Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan, Minister for Finance, last week in light of the slump in government finances.
Further discussions will be held with cabinet colleagues in the days ahead, but sources believe that Noel Dempsey, Minister for Transport, and his senior officials are fighting for the bulk of the existing plan to be maintained.
A range of other projects in the National Development Plan are also set to be delayed or shelved as part of a wide-ranging review. Transport protects will be given priority, while several non-transport projects will now be cancelled indefinitely.
Large portions of the Metro North project, one of the most ambitions infrastructure projects in the history of the state, were originally intended to be built underground.
This now looks unlikely to happen as a range of other less costly options come onto the table.
Much of the scaled down project may now be built above ground in an effort to cut costs, with a range of options of how to achieve this, including running trams on specific sealed off road areas, now under consideration.
Advisers believe the decision will reduce the estimated €4.5 billion cost by hundreds of millions of euro.
Sunday Business Post