In the Visitors Gallery are fifth year students from Nenagh. I welcome them to Leinster House today and hope they find their visit to the Houses of the Oireachtas beneficial.
I thank the Cathaoirleach for allowing me to raise the issue of the Dublin-Cork rail service. The Minister of State, Deputy Troy, is very welcome. As he will know, the all-Ireland rail review is currently being undertaken by the Department. The electrification of the rail line, provision of a new fleet and the need to meet our climate change targets are all important.
As we take a modal shift away from the car to public transport, it is opportune that the Cork commuter rail network is being progressed and advanced. That is why I welcome today what I hope will be a decision by Government to allow for the drawing down of €74 million of the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility to take place. The electrification and upgrading of the Cork-Dublin rail line is important. If we look at the national development plan, NDP, the strategic importance of Cork as a counterbalance to Dublin and Belfast has never been more critical.
That is why I am asking for the Government, as part of the all-Ireland rail review, to advance the frequency of the Dublin-Cork rail service in the context of the electrification of the tracks, to replace existing stock and to invest to improve the rail line to ensure greater frequency, especially at peak times. It is critical that we have a movement from an hourly to half-hourly service. As I said, the electrification of the line will reduce the journey time and increase the offerings for the travelling public. Linked to that is the need for an early morning train to Cork from Dublin. In 2022, I think we will all agree that a 9.30 a.m., 9.35 a.m. or 9.40 a.m. arrival time in Cork is not acceptable. The optimal time we should have the first train into Kent Station is well before 9 o'clock at 8.30 a.m. or 8.45 a.m. I ask that this be progressed as a matter of urgency. Mar fhocal scoir, I am asking for frequency at peak times to be increased, the plan for electrification to be expedited and the journey time be reduced to one hour and 30 minutes from its present time. I call on Government, in particular the Minister, Deputy Ryan, to look at electrification.
I appreciate the issue of fares is controlled by the National Transport Authority, NTA. The NTA must work with Government, the travelling public and the commuter to ensure a fare that is economical, encouraging and attracts people to travel by train.
These are exciting times for Cork with the commuter train network being advanced. I welcome the appointment of A.J. Cronin as the delivery manager for that. I look forward to the Minister of State's reply to what is a very important matter, not just for Cork but for the southern region.