The upgrade of Heuston Station, at a cost of €117 million, which is a prerequisite for the Kildare route project, is well advanced and will be completed in 2003. This project is being financed with €38 million from the EU and the balance from the Exchequer. In addition, a further €20 million has been sought in EU funding, which if approved, will release funds for other projects to be financed by the Exchequer.
Phase 1 of the Kildare route project, costing approximately €5 million of Exchequer funds, involves platform extensions at a number of stations and a turnback facility at Newbridge. This phase will be completed by end 2003. As well as improving access to Heuston Station for mainline services, this phase of the project, together with the delivery of 80 new diesel railcars from next month, will enable the expansion of suburban services by 130%.
Phase 2 of the project involves the construction of additional tracks between Cherry Orchard and Hazelhatch and is planned to commence in 2005. Approximately €11 million is being made available by the EU Commission for planning and design work on this phase, with the balance of €7 million being provided by the Exchequer. I have been advised by Iarnród Éireann that all the EU funds associated with this planning and design work, which is the subject of the application for EU funding, will be drawn down by the company.