Project Ireland 2040 states that the priority funding objective in relation to the mainline rail network is the maintenance and renewal of the existing network. This objective is in line with the recommendation of the International Monetary Fund’s Public Investment Management Assessment (PIMA) – Ireland report as published in September 2017.
The increased levels of funding I secured as part of Project Ireland 2040 mean that we are now in a position to fund the rail network at the ‘steady state’ level and also provide a level of certainty as regards that funding for the next multi-annual contractual period.
This is a significant and recurring contribution from the taxpayer – around €200 million every year – and is a significant improvement on recent years.
The work-programme planned over the period 2019 to 2023, as funded by this significantly improved level of funding, will allow for increased ballast cleaning, rail milling and track renewal, with the Dublin – Cork line a priority area of activity over the period. Completion of the planned work-programme will result in improved journey times and a better passenger experience on this key intercity route in the years ahead.
In addition to the above, Project Ireland 2040 also commits toward an evaluation of the economic benefits of high-speed rail, as compared to improvements to existing line speeds on the Dublin-Cork line. That evaluation will be carried out against relevant appraisal processes and value for money tests as required under the Public Spending Code. It is planned to commence that process during 2020 as committed to in Project Ireland 2040.