It is expected that all the projects in the public transport sector, which are being funded under the national development plan, will be completed. Projects completed to date have been done on time and within budget. The very significant Exchequer allocation to my Department in respect of the provision of transport infrastructure clearly demonstrates the Government's strong ongoing commitment to the NDP programme and to maintaining a high level of investment in infrastructural projects. Over €2.4 billion has been spent from Exchequer and EU funds to date, with public transport capital expenditure for this year at €486 million.
Services on the two Luas lines, the green line from Sandyford to St. Stephen's Green and the red line from Tallaght to Connolly Station are operating to wide public acclaim since June and September 2004, respectively. The Railway Procurement Agency, RPA, the body with responsibility for the Luas project, has assured me that the Sandyford and Tallaght lines will be completed within the €775 million budget, as notified to the Government in December 2002.
The national development plan provides for a substantial investment in the upgrade of the national roads network over the period 2000-06. Significant priorities within the national roads programme are the upgrade of the five main inter-urban routes, linking Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Dundalk with Dublin, to motorway-high quality dual carriageway standard, the construction of the Dublin Port Tunnel and the M50 and major improvement works on other national routes throughout the country. While the completion of this upgrade programme will extend beyond 2006 and will cost more than estimated in 1999, good progress is nevertheless being made in implementing the ambitious NDP upgrade programme.
The current position in relation to the upgrading of the five major inter-urban routes is that the M1 is expected to be fully complete by end 2006. Work is complete on major projects on the N7, Kildare, Monasterevin bypasses and Limerick southern ring road phase 1, and the N8, Cashel and Watergrasshill bypasses. Work is underway on the Kilcock-Kinnegad section of the N4-N6 on the Dundalk western bypass on the M1, on the Fermoy bypass, N8, and on Naas Road widening, N7. Work is expected to start this year on such major projects as, the Dundalk to Newry section of the M1, Kinnegad-Athlone on the N6, phase 1 of the M50 upgrade and Waterford city bypass.
Completion of these projects will eliminate many of the major bottlenecks on these routes. Good progress has been made also on upgrading routes other than the major inter-urban routes. Major projects completed in recent years include bypasses of Rathnew-Ashford, Ballincollig and Youghal. Projects under way or due to start in 2005 include Ennis bypass, Sligo inner relief road, Monaghan bypass, Mullingar bypass and the N55 Cavan bypass.
In addition, it is expected that compulsory purchase orders and environmental impact statements for the remaining projects in planning on these routes will either be approved by, or be before, An Bord Pleanála by early 2005.
In relation to the national roads programme overall, it should be noted that since 2000 a total of 47 projects, nearly 330 km, have been completed. Work is in progress on 20 projects, almost 200 km, and another eight projects, 140 km, are at tender stage with a further 12 projects, 167 km, through the statutory approval process.
The first round of approved projects was completed on time and within grant allocation. Projects selected for grant-aid under the second round have recently been approved and will be announced shortly.
It will be clear from the capital investment framework and the budget commitment to a ten year transport capital programme that the Government is fully committed to maintaining investment at high level and to the transformation of our transport networks.