• Planning application marks a key stage in moving MetroLink to construction
  • Ambitious rail “megaproject”, mostly underground, will connect North and South Dublin
  • Part of wider roll out of new public transport infrastructure across Ireland


The Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has welcomed the progression of MetroLink to the next major milestone, with the submission today of a planning application from Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) to An Bord Pleanála for the rail route.

This planning application (Railway Order) marks a key stage in the development of the ambitious MetroLink “megaproject”. MetroLink consists of a new fully segregated railway, most of which will be underground, between the Swords area and Charlemont in the south of Dublin City Centre. The route will serve multiple residential communities such as Swords, Ballymun and Glasnevin, as well as Dublin Airport, the City Centre, and major employment, education and other facilities.

By interchanging with heavy rail, DART, Luas and bus services, MetroLink will connect to more than a million people in the Dublin area and more across Ireland. This key national project will enhance accessibility and connectivity, improve the quality of the urban environment in Dublin, and help to decarbonise the transport sector.

Minister Ryan commented: “In July I secured Cabinet agreement to progress the major MetroLink project. I am delighted that today we have met our commitment with the submission of a planning application for the route. Securing planning approval is vital for MetroLink and I am keen to see construction on the project start as soon as possible.”

“MetroLink is a flagship project, but it is also one of a suite of major public transport investments that we have secured ongoing funding for within Budget 2023, underlining the commitment in the Programme for Government and in the Climate Action Plan to transform the way people can move around both our cities and rural Ireland.”

Chief Executive of TII, Peter Walsh, commented: “I believe that MetroLink will enable truly sustainable development for the country, and I call for the support from all stakeholders to facilitate its timely progression through the planning process.”

Dependent on the outcome of the planning and procurement processes, construction of MetroLink is earmarked to commence in 2025 with a view to operation in the early 2030s. In the meantime, there are many other public transport projects in progress across the country:

  • As part of BusConnects, new bus services were introduced in north and west Dublin last year, covering areas such as Howth/Malahide and Lucan. Northern Orbital services were introduced in May, covering Finglas and Blanchardstown, while new services to Ballyfermot and on the southside will be operational before this Christmas.
  • 41 new intercity railcars will enter service across the Iarnród Éireann network in 2023, increasing peak time capacity on intercity services by around 34% compared to today.
  • In July the number of off-peak weekday trains operating in Cork was doubled to every 30 minutes, to/from both Cobh and Midleton. Major infrastructure improvements in Cork commuter rail in the coming years will see further service improvements by the end of 2026.
  • The draft Iarnród Éireann timetable from this December, currently open for public consultation, proposes improvements that include 12 more off-peak commuter services between Newbridge and Heuston and a 15-minute journey time reduction on Ballybrophy-Limerick services following line infrastructure works this year.
  • CIÉ lodged a planning application for DART+ West with An Bord Pleanála in July, a project that will double the train services on the Maynooth line. Furthermore, 95 new DART carriages have been ordered and should enter service, including to Drogheda, in late 2025.
  • In September, Galway City Council lodged a planning application with An Bord Pleanála for the Galway Cross-City Link, which will provide a fast and efficient bus route across the city as part of BusConnects Galway.
  • The NTA began rolling out improved rural bus services as part of Connecting Ireland in 2022 in areas such as Castlebar and Tullamore. Improved Local Link services will continue to be rolled out from 2022-2025 under Connecting Ireland.