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Thursday, 4 Nov 2021

Written Answers Nos. 214-236

Electric Vehicles

Questions (214)

Michael Ring

Question:

214. Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Transport his plans to install an electric vehicle charger for public use in a village (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53925/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Deputy will be aware that the Government is fully committed to supporting a significant expansion and modernisation of the electric vehicle charging network over the coming years. A national charging infrastructure strategy is due for publication early next year which will set out a pathway to stay ahead of demand over the critical period out to 2030.

I am also aware that a report was published by the CCMA on the provision of guidance to local authorities on the provision of charging infrastructure. The document is available for viewing online at www.lgma.ie/en/publications/general-publications/local-authority-electrification-of-fleet-and-ev-charging-guidance.pdf

Preparations are underway to establish an Office of Low Emission Vehicles. This Office will play an important role in our transition to zero emission vehicles. It will co-ordinate measures to support the uptake of EVs and the rollout of charge point infrastructure.

In terms of existing supports for public charging, the Public Charge Point Scheme continues to be available during 2021 to provide local authorities with a grant of up to €5,000 to support the development of on-street public chargers. The primary focus of the scheme is to provide support for the installation of infrastructure which will facilitate owners of electric vehicles, who do not have access to a private parking space, but instead rely on parking their vehicles in public places near their homes to charge their EVs. My Department has committed to reviewing the Scheme later this year to ensure that it is as effective as possible in driving the decarbonisation effort.

Having an effective and reliable recharging network is essential to enabling drivers to choose electric. Charging at home is the most convenient and cheapest way to recharge. Targeting the installation of smart home chargers is a priority as we look to moving towards more energy efficient and sustainable ways to charge. A grant is available from the SEAI for those individuals seeking to install a home charger. Work is currently being progressed to expand the EV home charger grant to include shared parking in apartment blocks and similar developments. My Department is working closely with the SEAI and expects a scheme for apartments to open in the near future.

There is also a need for a seamless public charging network that will provide for situations or instances where home charging is not possible such as on-street and residential charging, destination charging, and workplace charging.

€10 million was committed from the Climate Action Fund to support ESB investment in the charging network and this has leveraged a further €10 million investment from ESB, with the infrastructure to be in place by the end of 2022. This intervention alone will result in:

- 90 additional high power chargers, each capable of charging two vehicles

- 52 additional fast chargers, which may replace existing standard chargers

- 264 replacement standard chargers with more modern technology and with each consisting of two charge points

Further details on the progression of this project can be found at esb.ie/ecars/our-network/network-upgrades .

My Department is also developing a new scheme which will support the installation of destination charge points in locations such as hotels, visitor centres and parks. This new initiative will help provide another critical link in the overall network for public charging.

Public Transport

Questions (215)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

215. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport if he will outline his engagements with his Department, the Garda Commissioner and the NTA in respect of a dedicated transport police service. [53952/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. However, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport.

The safety and security of passengers and staff, including arrangements to deal with anti-social behaviour, are matters first and foremost for the individual public transport companies in conjunction with, as appropriate, An Garda Síochána (AGS). The National Transport Authority (NTA) is also engaged with public transport operators regarding the issue of anti-social behaviour. I am advised by the NTA that their Working Group on Antisocial Behaviour meets monthly where public transport providers highlight developing trends and share good practices.

The Department of Justice have advised my Department that there are a number of tools at the disposal of the Garda Commissioner, who is operationally responsible, to respond to such incidents. The Commissioner is also responsible, as the Deputy will be aware, for the management and administration of AGS. It is important to note that the allocation of all Garda resources, including the manner in which Garda personnel are deployed, is solely a decision for the Garda Commissioner and his management team. I understand that the Minister for Justice has been advised that the Garda authorities do not propose to establish a specialist or dedicated transport policing unit.

AGS's mission of 'Keeping People Safe' extends to all areas of our communities, including public transport. Garda management engages extensively with transport operators, including the National Transport Authority, Irish Rail (DART and InterCity rail) and Transdev Ireland (Luas) to provide a high visibility presence through a co-ordinated approach.

I am informed that a range of regional and local operations have been put in place to prevent and detect incidents arising.

For example, Operation Twin Track was a Community Engagement and Rail Safety Policing Initiative conducted by Gardaí in partnership with other public transportation stakeholders with the purpose of providing high visibility policing of rail and light rail transport within the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) and nationwide, and to deliver crime prevention advice.

A multi-agency review was conducted to examine the effectiveness of this operation and it was agreed that AGS will continue to proactively engage with public transportation stakeholders and providers to conduct further similar operations.

Haulage Industry

Questions (216)

Carol Nolan

Question:

216. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Transport if he will meet with representatives of an association (details supplied) to address major concerns within that sector relating to the impact of carbon tax increases and other regulatory challenges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53432/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I and my Department liaise closely with the Irish Road Haulage Association, other stakeholder organisations in the haulage sector and individual hauliers. Minister Ryan has also met with the haulage representative organisations.

Most recently, in October I had a number of meetings with the haulage representative organisations and individual haulage operators to discuss the pressing issue of driver shortages in the haulage sector and other issues they wished to discuss. I met last with a delegation from the Irish Road Haulage Association on 5th October.

In relation to Carbon Tax, the Minister for Finance sets policy in relation to tax and excise duties on fuel. The increase in Budget 2022 related to the already planned increased in the Carbon Tax (representing between 2 to 2.5 cents increase per litre of petrol or diesel).

Heritage Sites

Questions (217)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

217. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Transport the status of the transfer of Shannon heritage sites in the mid-west from the Shannon Group to the local authorities. [47682/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I would like to thank Deputy Crowe for his question in relation to Shannon Heritage. This question has been transferred to me for reply from my colleague, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

I can advise the Deputy that Shannon Group is continuing to engage with the relevant Local Authorities and is working to reach agreement on the transfer of the Shannon Heritage business by the end of the year.

My Department continues to engage with Shannon Group regarding the future of Shannon Heritage and I have been informed that discussions between the parties are progressing and that the required due diligence exercises are underway. This due diligence must be concluded before my formal consent and that of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform can be given to execute any transfer of the sites, with the agreement of the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (218)

Colm Burke

Question:

218. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Transport the measures he will put in place to ensure that Cork Airport is supported during its current closure and following its reopening in November 2022; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47849/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government put in place a broad range of unprecedented supports very early in the pandemic to help mitigate impacts on business, including a wage subsidy scheme, grants, low-cost loans, a commercial rates waiver and deferred tax liabilities. It is estimated that Irish airlines and airports, including Cork Airport, have availed of over €300 million through these supports to date.

In addition, taking account of the recommendations of the Taskforce for Aviation Recovery, and in recognition of the significant challenges being faced by airports, the Government announced an €80 million funding package specifically for Irish aviation in November 2020. This included an unprecedented level of funding to airports in 2021.

As part of that funding, €32.1 million has been allocated to Cork and Shannon Airports in 2021. This comprises of €16.5m in capital and €15.6m in current funding. Capital allocations are supporting essential safety and security related projects. This includes €10m funding for a Runway Overlay Project at Cork Airport, a project vital for the future of the airport. In relation to current funding, the process to administer €15.6m between Cork and Shannon Airport has commenced and funds under this scheme will be disbursed to the airports by the end of the year.

A further €1.4m in funding was provided to Cork Airport over the summer under a Damages Scheme. This funding provides Cork airport with flexibility to roll out route incentives/charge rebates, in consultation with airlines, with a view to supporting recovery and growth of connectivity. In this context, the Deputy will be aware that Ryanair has recently announced the reopening of its Cork base from December with 12 routes for the winter months and 20 routes operating from Cork for summer 2022.

The Government is wholly committed to supporting the aviation sector, including supporting Cork Airport during its current closure and future re-opening. Government is also currently considering the possible need and options for further targeted supports for aviation, with a view to aiding in the restoration of lost air connectivity and competitiveness. Finally, the Deputy may be aware that Cork Airport will meet the eligibility criteria for funding under the Regional Airports Programme next year. The level of funding that might be available under this Programme is currently being considered in the context of the Estimates process in relation to Budget 2022. Government is also currently considering the possible need and options for further targeted supports for aviation, with a view to aiding in the restoration of lost air connectivity and competitiveness.

National Development Plan

Questions (219)

Alan Dillon

Question:

219. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Transport if he will consider revising the National Development Plan to prioritise balanced regional development; the major projects that are earmarked to benefit County Mayo; if he will advise on particular projects (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45640/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The National Development Plan (NDP) specifically aims towards achieving balanced regional development and ensuring that investment is in line with the requirements of the National Planning Framework. The rationale is set out in great detail in the review of the NDP and in the revised NDP itself. The NDP has been approved by Government and there is no scope for further change at this point. With regard to the specific projects the Deputy is enquiring about, the following is the position:

Ireland West Airport Knock

A new Regional Airports Programme for the period 2021 to 2025 was published on 4 February 2021. This Programme will continue to support Ireland’s smallest airports, which are those, including Ireland West Airport, that operate scheduled services and handle less than 1 million annual passengers. Ireland West Airport, along with other eligible airports, will shortly be given the opportunity to submit their capital project proposals for consideration for funding in 2022.

Western Rail Corridor

Scope for the potential afforded by disused and closed lines such as the Western Rail Corridor will be included in the Strategic Rail Review. I expect the Review will be completed within 12 months.

R312

My Department has received a Specific Grant application form Mayo County Council for further works on the R312 recently and this application will now be assessed. Any projects put forward for consideration are examined taking existing commitments, competing projects and available budgets into account.

N5 Westport to Turlough

Following approval by Government, the main construction contract for the N5 Westport to Turlough was signed with Wills BAM JV on 29th October 2019. Works are approximately 50% complete and it is expected that completion will be achieved in Q4 2022.

N17 Knock to Collooney

This project is being progressed by Sligo County Council in conjunction with Mayo County Council. The Design Team is currently progressing the Route Option Selection stage.

N26/N59 Ballina Bypass Phase 1

A Strategic Assessment Report for the scheme was approved by my Department in March 2021. The Concept and Feasibility Phase was completed in July 2021 and the Option Selection Phase has commenced. On this basis TII would expect preferred option selection to occur next year, before the project is taken to the next approval stage in the Public Spending Code process, taking account of available funds.

N26 Foxford to Mount Falcon Road project

The Preferred Route for this proposed road scheme was adopted by Mayo County Council in July 2015. The further progression of the scheme was suspended due to funding constraints and the requirement for TII to focus on the progression of those schemes that were identified for development during the period of the NDP 2018-2027. The position remains unchanged for the revised NDP.

N84 Ballinrobe Relief Road

In 2009 an emerging preferred route for the N84 Ballinrobe Bypass was ratified by Mayo County Council. Following this approval, the route was included in the Ballinrobe Local Area Development Plan. The scheme is currently suspended, meaning the project will be held at its current phase of the design process. The route will remain protected for planning purposes to safeguard the line of the proposed road from any development that could prejudice the construction and safe operation of the road.

Driver Licences

Questions (220)

Gino Kenny

Question:

220. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Transport the details of any specific legislative amendment introduced to allow applications for driving licences by asylum seekers. [48556/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As set out in the Programme for Government, the Government will act on interim recommendations from the Chair of the Expert Group on the Provision of Support, including Accommodation, to Persons in the International Protection Process (Asylum Seekers) to improve conditions for asylum seekers currently living in the system. This includes the ability to apply for driver licences. There are complex legal, administrative, and technical issues to consider and resolve to provide this access. As Irish driving licence legislation is based on a framework of EU law, consideration must also be given to the relevant EU Directives.

Legislative requirements are being examined in conjunction with the Road Safety Authority, the Department of Justice and the Attorney General's Office.

Driver Licences

Question No. 222 answered with Question No. 161.

Questions (221)

Richard O'Donoghue

Question:

221. Deputy Richard O'Donoghue asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding the waiting time for driver theory tests and driving tests in Limerick city and county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53713/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Under legislation, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) is the body responsible for the operation of the Driving Test and Theory Test.

Specific details relating to Limerick City and County are held by the Road Safety Authority. This question is therefore being referred to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response has not been received within ten days.

Question No. 222 answered with Question No. 161.

Departmental Reviews

Questions (223)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

223. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Transport when he will publish the review by his Department on the viability of air routes on the island of Ireland. [53733/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Deputy is aware, in the context of supporting greater connectivity on the island of Ireland, the Irish Government has agreed ‘to take forward a review of the potential for Government support to renewed viable air routes from Cork to Belfast and Dublin to Derry, working with the UK Government and Northern Ireland Executive to deliver improved connections as a priority’ as part of its commitments under New Decade New Approach.

My Department is progressing this review and has engaged extensively with relevant stakeholders including relevant airports, as well as representatives from the Department for the Economy (NI). Engagement has also taken place with the Department for Transport (UK), given that civil aviation is a reserved matter and is under the remit of Westminster.

In consideration of potential supports for renewing services, my Department is taking account of previous history, prospective demand, likely costs and long-term sustainability goals, having regard to the recently launched all-island Strategic Rail Review and plans for improved road connectivity, particularly the A5, between Derry and Dublin.

This review, as well as the delivery of identified infrastructure projects to achieve greater cross border connectivity, has been on the agenda of all transport sector meetings of the North South Ministerial Council and is part of the work programme of cross-border infrastructure and investment commitments under the New Decade New Approach agreement.

While it had been hoped that this review would be complete by the end of the summer, this work was impacted by the collapse of Stobart Air on 12 June with the immediate cessation of PSO flights on the Donegal/Dublin route. Restoring this connectivity to the North-West was a priority for this Government and an accelerated procurement process was undertaken to restore services as a matter of urgency. As this process has been completed and services on the Donegal/Dublin route have re-commenced, it is now the intention that this review will be finalised by my Department and provided to me for consideration in the coming weeks.

Bus Services

Questions (224)

Michael Lowry

Question:

224. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Transport when alternative services will be put in place by the NTA to replace the cancelled route X12 Expressway service between Roscrea and Limerick; if the NTA has identified the need for a public passenger transport service between Roscrea and Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53743/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.

The issues raised are matters for the National Transport Authority (NTA) in conjunction with the relevant bus operators. Therefore, I have forwarded the Deputy's questions to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Tax Code

Question No. 226 answered with Question No. 127.

Question No. 227 answered with Question No. 127.

Question No. 228 answered with Question No. 124.

Question No. 229 answered with Question No. 124.

Questions (225)

Niall Collins

Question:

225. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Transport if he will address a matter raised in correspondence in relation to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53752/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Changes of motor tax class and the issuing of refunds of motor tax are processed through the vehicle owner's local motor tax office. They cannot currently be transacted online.

In this instance, the vehicle owner should contact Limerick City and County Council motor tax office at motortax@limerick.ie, providing telephone contact details. That office, which has been made aware of the circumstances, will then advise the owner directly on the requirements to effect the changes required.

Question No. 226 answered with Question No. 127.
Question No. 227 answered with Question No. 127.
Question No. 228 answered with Question No. 124.
Question No. 229 answered with Question No. 124.

Bus Services

Questions (230)

Mairéad Farrell

Question:

230. Deputy Mairéad Farrell asked the Minister for Transport if he has given consideration to restoring the Galway Dublin X20 bus route; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53834/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, I am responsible for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. However, I am not involved in day-to-day operational matters.

While most public transport in Ireland comprises the bus and rail services funded through the National Transport Authority's (NTA) public service obligation (PSO) programme, there is part of the national public transport system that comprises non-subvented bus services, which are run on a commercial basis by bus and coach businesses of varying sizes throughout the country. Bus Éireann operates a substantial PSO business under contract with the NTA, providing subvented bus services outside Dublin, and in regional and rural locations throughout the country. Bus Éireann also has a separate, commercially-run business, "Expressway", which operates a number of inter-regional bus routes in competition with other, private, commercial operators in the licensed bus market.

The Covid-19 health emergency has had a profound impact on the public transport sector due to the fall in passenger numbers and associated drop in fare revenues. In this regard, the Government agreed substantial increases to the PSO budget to ensure the continuation of PSO services throughout 2020 and 2021. In addition, the Government has recognised the impact of the pandemic on the licensed bus sector - which normally operates on a commercial basis without public subvention but which, during the Covid crisis, was in a situation where its operations were no longer commercially viable, owing to the impact of Covid-19 on passenger numbers and the associated drop in fare revenue.

Therefore, in June 2020 the Government decided to introduce new, temporary financial supports for certain licensed services provided by commercial bus operators to ensure the continued operation of these essential services. Among the commercially-operated routes that have qualified for support under the temporary scheme are most, but not all, of Bus Éireann's "Expressway" services. Notwithstanding these supports, though, the Covid situation has still had a profound impact on the company's financial situation, that the Board of the company is obliged to address. Following extensive analysis and work within the company, the decision to consolidate its Expressway network was taken by the Board of Bus Éireann in September 2020. The decision impacts four routes - the X1 Dublin/Belfast service (which ceased operations in November 2020), the X12 Dublin/Limerick service (which ceased operations on 30/01/2021), the 20/X20 Dublin/Galway service (which ceased operations on 28/07/2021) and the X8 Dublin/Cork service (which ceased operations on 04/09/2021).

In circumstances where a commercial operator ceases operating a specific route, the NTA undertakes an examination to determine whether, with the discontinuation of the commercial service, it is necessary for a replacement PSO service to be introduced to ensure no loss of connectivity to the travelling public. This process includes an assessment of the level of demand for public transport services in the affected area, an evaluation of whether existing PSO services can be reconfigured to meet any shortfall, or whether it is necessary to competitively tender for the provision of services. In light of the decision by Bus Éireann to cease operating the X20 route, the NTA completed a detailed assessment of the X20 corridor and have determined that despite Expressway’s withdrawal, sufficient connectivity is provided by the remaining operators and the public service obligation is adequately met by other rail and bus services, thereby negating the need for any further intervention on the route.

Question No. 231 answered with Question No. 170.

Cross-Border Co-operation

Question No. 233 answered with Question No. 232.

Question No. 234 answered with Question No. 110.

Questions (232, 233)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

232. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Transport the details of the cross-Border Project Ireland 2040 infrastructure projects and the funding allocated for 2021, 2022 and 2023, in tabular form. [53855/21]

View answer

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

233. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Transport the details of his Department’s current cross-Border initiatives, goods and or services committed to and the funding allocated to each for 2021, 2022 and 2023, in tabular form. [53873/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 232 and 233 together.

There are a number of cross-Border transport related projects and initiatives currently underway or planned.

In relation to rail, my Department in co-operation with the Department for Infrastructure (NI) has commenced an all-Island Strategic Rail Review which will strategically consider the rail network on the island of Ireland in relation to improving sustainable connectivity between the major cities, enhancing regional accessibility (including to the North-West) and supporting balanced regional development. The Review will consider connectivity to the main air and sea ports and in this regard, the potential for freight by rail. The Review will also consider the potential scope for improved rail services along existing, or future potential, corridors of the network. The cost of the review will be approximately €1m.

The PEACE PLUS programme 2021-2027 is a successor programme to both the existing PEACE and INTERREG programmes and is jointly funded by the EU, Irish and UK governments. The Programme is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) and has been agreed by the Government, the Northern Ireland Executive and SEUPB. It is subject to European Commission approval and, when approved, will provide over €1billion in funding over the period 2021-2027. The Government will also continue to contribute to the PEACE IV and INTERREG VA programmes as they conclude in 2021, 2022 and 2023, with a contribution of €39.19m in 2021.

The priority project for transport under PEACE PLUS, agreed by my Department and the Department for Infrastructure NI, is the replacement and expansion of the Enterprise rail fleet to provide for sustainable rail stock and a move toward an hourly service and reduced journey times. Funding profiles for the programme will be finalised as part of the development of the business case which is underway.

In relation to roads, the current funding arrangements in relation to the A5 are governed by the commitments in the Stormont House Agreement and Implementation Plan - A Fresh Start and in the New Decade, New Approach document. The Government is committed to providing funding of £75 million (sterling) towards the cost of phase 1a of the A5 upgrade scheme subject to the satisfactory conclusion of the statutory planning process which is currently underway in Northern Ireland. Annual allocations to fulfil the Government’s funding commitment will be determined in light of progress with the statutory process.

In relation to aviation, my Department is undertaking a review of the potential for Government support to renewed viable air routes from Cork to Belfast and Dublin to Derry. In doing so, the Department is working with its counterparts in the UK Government and Northern Ireland Executive

With regard to other cross-border projects, my Department receives reimbursed funds from the SEUPB for the following three transport related projects being funded under the INTERREG VA Programme:

- Greenways: Carlingford Lough Greenway, Ulster Canal Greenway (Phase 2), North West Greenways Network

- Multimodal Hub: Multimodal Transport Hub in Derry

-‘FASTER’: Electric vehicle charging project

The division and allocation of this fund is the responsibility of the SEUPB.

The Sligo Leitrim Northern Counties Railway (SLNCR) Greenway has been granted €500,000 under the Carbon Tax funding round 2020. The Greenway runs from Collooney in Sligo to Manorhamilton in Leitrim and to Blacklion on the Cavan - Fermanagh border before crossing into Fermanagh and ending in Enniskillen. Although no funding has been drawn down in 2020 or 2021 to date, it is anticipated that €189,000 will be drawn down by end Q4 2021. Any allocations for 2022 and 2023 will be a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) to determine as they are now the Authorising Authority (as of September 2021).

The EU’s INTERREG VA Programme will invest approximately €6.4m/£5.8m in a new electric vehicle charging project called ‘FASTER’, which will help reduce reliance on fossil fuels by encouraging increased use of more environmentally-friendly forms of transport. This project is at an early stage and the breakdown of expenditure for 2022 and 2023 has not been determined as yet. There has been no expenditure on this project in 2021.

Description

Allocated Funding 2021

Allocated Funding 2022

Allocated Funding 2023

Active Travel

€2,000,000

€2,400,000

€2,760,000

Greenways

€189,000 by Q4

TII to determine

TII to determine

Question No. 233 answered with Question No. 232.
Question No. 234 answered with Question No. 110.

Rail Network

Question No. 236 answered with Question No. 110.

Questions (235, 242)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

235. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if sufficient regard will be had for the rapidly developing commuter areas throughout north County Kildare with particular reference to the need for increased capacity and frequency of the rail services in its present or future form in the course of planning for transport development in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53903/21]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

242. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the extent to which projections in respect of rail and bus transport is expected to benefit the travelling public throughout north County Kildare in the short and medium-term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53910/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 235 and 242 together.

I think it is important to firstly acknowledge the significant improvements to public transport currently underway, and underpinned by the renewed National Development Plan, which will greatly benefit north County Kildare.

The ongoing renewal and enhancement of our PSO bus fleets and services will benefit Kildare, along with many other parts of the country. The expansion of the existing Greater Dublin Area (GDA) commuter rail fleet through 41 additional rail carriages will also benefit commuters and the travelling public in Kildare, and these carriages are scheduled to arrive next year. Later this month the National Transport Authority (NTA) will launch the second 'spine' of the BusConnects programme, the 'C-Spine' which will benefit Maynooth, Celbridge and Leixlip and introduce much improved bus services across the area. Kildare will of course also benefit from the development of the DART+ programme with two separate projects – DART+ West and DART+ South West – benefitting the county in the years ahead and transforming the capacity and service level of rail once developed. Finally there is also the ongoing construction of the National Train Control Centre which will improve and expand the capacity of the train management system used across our rail network and underpin the service expansion planned under DART+.

Notwithstanding these significant improvements planned or underway the Deputy is right to highlight the need to plan for the future. As the Deputy is aware Kildare forms part of the statutorily defined GDA in the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008 and its transport needs are therefore considered as part of the NTA's Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016 to 2035. The Strategy is currently under review as is required every six years and in reviewing it the NTA must have regard to a number of issues as set out in the Act including ‘demographic, economic, social, travel and transport trends’. A revised Strategy will be published by the NTA shortly and I would encourage interested citizens and public representatives to participate in the consultation process.

Question No. 236 answered with Question No. 110.
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