The Irish republic is laying the ground for the country's first metro system, aiming to start procuring Dublin's estimated $10-billion MetroLink project in a public-private partnership agreement this year. The state will finance about 75% of the project cost with the private sector making up the balance in the P3 deal.

Having submitted the 11.7-mile, largely tunneled project for planning approval six months ago, transit agency Transport Infrastructure Ireland hopes to start construction in 2025. 

MetroLink secured the government green light last July after "being on the table for two decades," said transportation minister Eamon Ryan. 

Now before the state's planning authority, An Bord Pleanál, the project last month appointed engineers to design the advance works program.

Atkins, the U.K.-based unit of SNC Lavalin Group, will lead this phase of work covering utility diversions, archaeological and heritage artifacts, land access and environmental monitoring to prepare the route for the main construction. 

Atkins is being supported by U.K.-based RPS Group, which was acquired by U.S.-based Tetra Tech Inc. in January.

MetroLink is planned as a high-frequency system linking the town of Swords, north of Dublin, to Charlemont, in the city. The line would serve Dublin Airport and connect with existing transportation routes. 

MetroLink_map_ENR.jpgMetroLink would connect towns north of Dublin into the city center. Map courtesy of Transport Infrastructure Ireland


Most of the line will run though a single bore, 31-ft-dia tunnel with a minimum ground cover of about 50 ft, according to project officials.

Just how much the project will cost remains uncertain, with the government forecasting a range of $8 to $13 billion. Transport Infrastructure Ireland is working with megaproject performance experts Bent Flyvbjerg and Alexander Budzier of Oxford University's Saïd Business School to narrow cost forecasts.

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., with Spain-based Idom SA., helped develop the project so far in a contract with Transport Infrastructure Ireland awarded in 2018.