I propose to take Questions Nos. 100 and 151 together.
As the Deputies are aware, my Department, in co-operation with the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland, is undertaking a Strategic Rail Review. This Review, which Arup consultants have been appointed to undertake, will inform the development of inter-urban and inter-regional rail on the Island of Ireland over the coming decades. Following the appointment of Arup, work on the Review commenced in September with a view to completion in Q4 2022.
Included in the scope of the Review is a consultation process. This will allow for interested stakeholders and public alike to engage with and have their say in the Review. I understand the consultation process is planned to be launched before the end of the year and I would encourage all interested parties to participate in the consultation once the process is launched.
The Strategic Rail Review will review the rail network with regard to the following ambitions: improving sustainable connectivity between the major cities (including the potential for high-/higher speed), enhancing regional accessibility, supporting balanced regional development and considering rail connectivity to our international gateways - sea and air ports, which will include examining the role of rail freight.
This will be one of the most significant reviews of the rail network on the island in many years and will provide a framework to develop a much-improved rail network in the decades ahead.