As advised in my composite reply to questions numbered 33, 34 and 35 on 21 January 2021, the engagement and payment of any fees to the consultancy firm referred to by the Deputy was a matter for
Iarnród Éireann in line with their contractual arrangements with that firm whom they commissioned to undertake the study on the Western Rail Corridor. No specific funding was provided by my Department to Iarnród Éireann in relation to this particular report.
The Deputy has asked about meetings between the Department and Iarnród Éireann in relation to the commissioning, preparation, completion and payment for the report. As regards meetings specifically about the IÉ consultants' work and report, I can confirm that - as would be expected in a process of this nature - my Department had an introductory meeting with Iarnród Éireann and their consultants on 4 April 2019 as the consultants commenced their work and began their engagement with stakeholders. My Department met again with Iarnród Éireann and their consultants on 4 July 2019 and finally, following submission by Iarnród Éireann of a draft report, my Department met with Iarnród Éireann and their consultants on 24 February 2020 as part of the Department’s initial review of the draft report and technical assessment of it as an economic appraisal with reference to relevant Public Spending Code and Common Appraisal Framework guidance.
Separately, the Deputy is likely aware that my Department meets Iarnród Éireann and the Commission for Rail Regulation on a quarterly basis in relation to the Infrastructure Manager Multi-Annual Contract (IMMAC). The IMMAC is a contractual arrangement derived from EU and Irish law and provides funding toward the protection and renewal of the rail network. In accordance with the legislative framework, the Commission for Rail Regulation is the designated independent monitoring body for the purposes of the IMMAC. I am informed that reference was made to the Western Rail Corridor review at those meetings over the period 2018 to 2020 under Any Other Business along with other topical issues such as National Development Plan project updates, Dublin-Cork track relaying project, and the proposed study of high-/higher speed rail.