Hopes for DART Underground still alive, says Transport Minister

Shane Ross is not ruling out an underground service in Dublin or the Metro North line

Hopes for DART Underground still alive, says Transport Minister

File photo of a Northern Line underground train at Tottenham Court Road Station | Image: Nick Ansell / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Minister for Transport Shane Ross has revealed that plans for a DART Underground could be back on the table, as well as a high-speed Metro North rail link.

Ross told the Oireachtas Transport Committee on Tuesday:

"The proposal for the DART Underground was put in the deep freeze in 2010 and it is now in the fridge.

"There is every intention of its being a project. It is being designed and kept alive and will certainly be eligible for EU funds.

"We must not lose sight of that project along with Metro North and others. If funds became available the timetable for that and the Dart Underground should be looked at anew because they are so important."

The proposed €3bn project had been scrapped by former Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe in September in favour of a "lower cost technical solution."

Ross has now argued that greater capital investment into public transport could be a necessity, "particularly in Dublin where there is terrible congestion."

Due to the changing demands for transport, Ross feels that his department's capital appraisal "is not something that should be set in stone."

He plans to go to Donohoe, who is now Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, to make the case for increased spending:

"I think he is fairly sympathetic to that ambition…

"He has always specifically mentioned the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport as one of his top three priorities. He appreciates that as an ex-minister in the department."

Earlier this month, Irish Rail called for preference to be given to the construction of a DART line linking Dublin Airport to the city centre over the planned Metro North scheme.

Irish Rail's director of infrastructure Don Cunningham made the case that space needs to be set aside at Dublin Airport for the DART line, as he forecast that "other major rail developments, including Metro North, will continue to be deferred in the context of funding constraint."