I propose to take Questions Nos. 149, 158, 161 and 163 together.
Transport 21 provides for the construction of the Navan Rail Line in two phases: Phase 1: Clonsilla to Dunboyne by 2010, and Phase 2: Dunboyne to Navan by 2015, subject to studies.
The current position on Phase 1 is that Iarnród Éireann has applied to An Bord Pleanála for a Railway Order in respect of the Clonsilla-Dunboyne section. I understand that Iarnród Éireann are aiming to start work before the end of the year, subject to the decision of An Bord Pleanála and any issues arising.
The position regarding the Dunboyne-Navan section (Phase 2) is that Iarnród Éireann has completed a scoping study and is now proceeding with the preparation of a full preliminary design and business case. The more detailed design work now to be undertaken by Iarnród Éireann will provide a better basis for estimating the final cost of the project. The actual cost of the project will only be determined when tenders are approved by Iarnród Éireann.
Both phases of this project are subject to appraisal in accordance with the Department of Finance Guidelines for the Appraisal and Management of Capital Investment and the Department of Transport Common Appraisal Guidelines. These guidelines require a full Cost Benefit Analysis to be carried out for projects costing in excess of €30m before a final decision is made to proceed. The results of initial and high level cost benefit analyses carried out to date in respect of both phases indicate internal rates of return in excess of the Department of Finance threshold rate. Once An Bord Pleanála has decided on the Railway Order application for Phase 1, the Board of Iarnród Éireann will make a formal application to my Department to proceed with the project, with details of a full Cost Benefit Analysis and financing arrangements. A full cost benefit analysis will be prepared for Phase 2 as part of the further design work and business case development now being undertaken by Iarnród Éireann.
My Department and I sought and was given details of the presentation made to Meath County Council by Iarnród Éireann on 7th January in respect of phase 2 of the project. It should be noted that Iarnród Éireann has indicated that the scoping study shows a positive Net Present Value for the project and an Internal Rate of Return in excess of the in the Department of Finance guidelines threshold rate.
My Department has allocated €10m to Iarnród Éireann this year to advance work on the project and the projects are progressing in line with the target completion dates.