Written Answers. - Rail Network.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

258 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport if Iarnród Éireann will retain a signal in the existing siding to a factory (details supplied) in Athy, County Kildare, as part of the extension of the mini CTC signalling project to Waterford. [2962/03]

I am advised by Iarnród Éireann that it intends to retain the existing siding to the Tegral factory at Athy station as part of the Mini CTC project on the Waterford line which is due to be completed by end 2004.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

259 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport if he has considered the possibility of transferring rail freight from the North Wall to the East Wall yard in respect of the imminent proposal by Iarnród Éireann to close the Dublin North Wall midland yard for redevelopment and the subsequent enforced transfer of a great volume of rail freight onto clogged roads. [2963/03]

Last year my Department engaged consultants to undertake a comprehensive strategic rail review of both passenger and rail freight services.

The primary purpose of the review is to provide the Government with a basis for establishing a strategic policy framework for the future development of the rail sector in Ireland over the next twenty years. Central to the review is an examination of the potential for rail freight services as well as the associated implications for the environment and the road network. Any decision as regards freight will be taken in the context of the rail review. The review is due to be published shortly.
I am informed by Iarnród Éireann that, under the terms of their agreement with Spencer Dock Development Company entered into in 1998, they were required to vacate an area in North Wall currently used to operate their container business in January 2003.
This development had been expected and, in fact was originally due to happen in early 2002. I understand that failure to vacate the site in accordance with the terms of the 1998 agreement could have exposed Iarnród Éireann to significant compensation claims from the developer. CIE has advised me that the revenue generated from the development of the Spencer Dock site will allow significant capital investment for the upgrade of rail services.
Recognising the inevitability of this development, in December 2001 an investment of €1 million was approved by the company to relocate and facilitate continued container-handling operations in the North Wall area. The facilities on this new site will allow 85% of current container volumes to be handled there. While the East Wall site is suitable and available, I am advised by Iarnród Éireann that it would have cost between €16 million and €20 million to convert it into a container handling depot and Iarnród Éireann has decided to await the outcome of the strategic rail review prior to making any decisions on investment on such a scale.