Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Questions (525)

Marc MacSharry


525. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the considerable capacity issues across the public transport system; and the steps he will take in the short to medium-term to address same. [39777/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Deputy is aware, the continued economic growth and increased employment levels have seen demand increase across the public transport networks and particularly in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA). 

Project Ireland 2040 commits over €8 billion to public transport and active travel projects over the next 10 years.  This investment will transform our public transport network and enable more people choose sustainable mobility as their preferred mode of transport.

This increased level of investment allows for a range of short, medium and longer term responses as the Deputy has referred.

In the short term, the size of the Public Service Obligation (PSO) bus fleet has increased and that, together with service improvements, has meant increased and improved service provision. This is a significant development as the bus is by far the most important part of our public transport network.

On the Luas network, the first of the extensions to the Luas Green Line fleet has entered service with the remaining 25 extensions set to enter service on a rolling basis from now on. Next year will also see delivery of the 8 additional trams that have been ordered as part of the Luas Green Line Capacity Enhancement Project.

On rail while there have been improvements introduced last year in peak-time services, and this year in off-peak services, there are two fundamental constraints, namely the need to physically expand the fleet through the purchase of additional carriages and also the need to improve the overall management of the network.

And I am pleased to say there is progress underway in relation to both.  In relation to the fleet, a business case for the purchase of 41 additional InterCity Railcars is currently under consideration by my Department in line with the Public Spending Code.  That business case will be submitted to Government for its approval and it is expected that the new fleet will be delivered by 2021.

Separately, in May this year the National Transport Authority (NTA) and Iarnród Éireann commenced pre-qualifying in relation to a 10-year procurement framework for electric and battery-electric units which will massively expand the fleet.

In the summer, the Government approved the development of a new National Train Control Centre and contracts on this are expected to be awarded before the end of the year.

In the medium and longer term, the Deputy will acknowledge the on-going development of BusConnects, DART Expansion and MetroLink each of which will transform the capacity of the relevant public transport modes and create better linkages between them too.

I would hope that the Deputy can see that there are a range of measures underway to improve our public transport network and services.