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Rail Network Expansion

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 12 June 2018

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Questions (117)

Shane Cassells


117. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the impact the draft regional spatial and economic strategy for the eastern and midlands area which sets out restrictive population numbers for County Meath will have on the completion of the second phase of the Navan to Dublin rail line project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25413/18]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Navan Rail Link Project was originally included under the Transport 21 Initiative and was to be developed in two Phases.  Phase 1 comprised the Dunboyne Rail Line project and involved the reopening of 7.5km of a railway line running off the Maynooth line, at Clonsilla, to the M3 interchange at Pace near Dunboyne. This was opened in September 2010 with Park and Ride facilities for 1,200 at Pace and for 300 at Dunboyne. The plan for Phase 2 involved the extension of the Dunboyne Line between Clonsilla and M3 Parkway Station, onwards to north Navan. This development together with a number of other transport projects was postponed in 2011 due to the economic and fiscal crisis.

The National Transport Authority (NTA), which has statutory responsibility for development of Public Transport in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), included an examination of the Navan to City Centre Rail Corridor in the preparation of its "Transport Strategy for the GDA for the period 2016-2035".  At that time the NTA concluded that, based on population and employment forecasts, the level of travel demand between Navan, Dunshaughlin and various stations to the city centre was insufficient to justify the development of a high-capacity rail link.  Instead it proposed that an enhanced bus service would be provided along the corridor in conjunction with the development of a bus hub by the local authority in Navan.  This position will be kept under review by the NTA and will be reassessed as part of the next review of its GDA Transport Strategy which is due before the end of 2021.

The Government’s recently published Project Ireland 2040, comprising the National Planning Framework (NPF) and the National Development Plan (NDP), confirms a number of key public transport investment priorities. It also recognises that over the period of the plan it will be very important to examine the role that the interurban rail network can play in enhancing regional connectivity.  In this regard, the NDP notes that the NTA is required to review its Greater Dublin Area Transport Strategy every six years and by the end of 2021.  This review will include a reappraisal of the proposed extension of the Dunboyne/M3 Parkway line to Navan taking into account the scale of new and planned development along the route, and this will allow for its consideration during the NDP Mid-Term Review.

I understand that the Eastern & Midland Regional Assembly are currently preparing the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) for the Eastern and Midland Region, to ensure better co-ordination in planning and development policy matters across boundaries,  as provided for under the Local Government Reform Act 2014. The process of preparing the RSES for this region, that takes the high-level framework and principles of the NPF and works out more detail at regional and local authority levels, also involves consultation with a number of Stakeholders including the NTA.