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Tuesday, 14 Dec 2021

Written Answers Nos. 177-193

Pension Provisions

Questions (177, 193)

James Lawless

Question:

177. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Transport if he will examine an issue regarding the pension scheme for drivers (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61665/21]

View answer

Emer Higgins

Question:

193. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Transport if he has considered the recommendations made by the Pensions Authority regarding the pension scheme for Dublin Bus drivers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61646/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 177 and 193 together.

The CIÉ Group has two pension schemes, namely the Regular Wages Scheme ("RWS") and 1951 superannuation scheme ("1951 Scheme"), and issues in relation to CIÉ pension schemes are primarily a matter for the trustees of the schemes, the CIÉ Group and their employees.

In relation to the RWS (mainly frontline staff), CIÉ has prepared and submitted draft Statutory Instruments (SIs) to give effect to the proposed changes to the scheme. These changes involve significant amendments to the Scheme which are necessary in order to address the Minimum Funding Standard requirements under the Pensions Act. These changes have been agreed by the trustees of the schemes, the employees and the CIÉ Group following extensive and prolonged engagement between all parties.

There are a number of steps involved before an SI can be made, including the statutory consultation process. It is expected that the details of the SIs will be settled shortly and published thereafter as part of the consultation process. In this context, I would like to reassure the Deputies that my Department, in consultation with advisors in NewERA, are working on the draft SIs as expeditiously as possible.

Bus Éireann

Questions (178)

Martin Kenny

Question:

178. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Transport the reason prison records of ex-prisoners that come under the Good Friday Agreement are being used to refuse employment by Bus Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61136/21]

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.

This is an operational matter and responsibility for the qualifying criteria of employment rests with Bus Éireann. Accordingly, I have referred the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply.

Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (179)

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

179. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Transport if he will provide additional economic support to the aviation sector and those who are employed in it given the recent introduction of new Covid-19 restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61174/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

During the Covid crisis the aviation sector has benefited considerably from the suite of measures to support businesses across the economy, including but not limited to, a wage subsidy scheme, grants, low-cost loans, a commercial rates waiver, deferred tax liabilities and the COVID Restrictions Support Scheme. It is estimated that Irish airports and airlines will have received approximately €440 million under these measures by the end of 2021.

Government recognises that Aviation makes significant direct and indirect contributions in the regions, providing for high quality jobs within the aviation sector as well as through the various ancillary services that are provided to airports, the airlines, and in the local economy.

Given this, in addition to these horizontal supports, over €165 million in aviation specific supports will have been allocated to Irish Airports this year, including PSO air services, by the end of 2021. €21.3 million was made available to Donegal, Ireland West and Kerry Airports under the Regional Airports Programme 2021-2025. A further €32.1 million was made available to Cork and Shannon Airports under a bespoke COVID-19 Regional State Airports Programme in 2021. This investment in our regional airports will ensure airport compliance with EU safety and security related obligations. The PSO Air Service between Donegal and Dublin and Kerry to Dublin (until Ryanair began operating the Kerry route in July) was also supported by Exchequer funding

Furthermore, it was recognised in the National Economic Recovery Plan that additional support may be required to support the aviation sector’s recovery as European and international air transport resumed. Given this, by end 2021 a further €116 million will have been distributed under a Covid Supplementary Support Scheme to our airports. Funding under this Scheme will compensate our smaller regional airports for the damage caused to them by Covid, as well as providing our State airports with flexibility to roll out route incentives/charge rebates with a view to supporting recovery and growth of connectivity.

In 2022, funding of €36 million will be provided by Government under the Regional Airports Programme 2021-2025, supporting regional airports of Shannon, Cork, Ireland West, Donegal and Kerry. This budget allocation represents a significant increase in funding available under the Programme in 2022 which takes account of the broadening of the Programme to include Shannon and Cork Airports.

Government is fully cognisant of the ongoing and deep impact of the pandemic on the aviation sector. This level of funding provided to date, clearly demonstrates Government’s commitment to this sector and to those whose livelihoods have been so negatively impacted by this crisis. As was the case in 2021, Government will continue to keep Aviation Supports under review in 2022.

Road Projects

Questions (180)

Réada Cronin

Question:

180. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Transport the details of and reasons for the major overrun of costs in the M7 widening, Sallins bypass, Osberstown interchange to date (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61200/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

The main design and construction elements of the Naas Bypass widening Scheme, the Osberstown Interchange and the Sallins Bypass were implemented under one construction contract with three funding authorities involved - TII, the Department and Kildare County Council.

Kildare County Council, as the contracting authority, had overall responsibility for the implementation of the scheme and engagement with the contractor on the delivery of the various elements of the scheme.

The €85.5 million figure (excluding VAT) relates to a final account settlement recommended by the Standing Conciliator appointed under the terms of the construction contract after a lengthy conciliation process. The reasons this settlement exceeds the original construction contract price include the fact that the Public Works contract makes provision for compensation events and for additional works to be instructed. There were several instructions issued over the course of the works. Additionally, upgrading the existing M7 carriageway to 3 lanes during live traffic required significant traffic management and the project experienced multiple delays due to this challenge. Also, the Osberstown interchange and Sallins Bypass sections of the project involved the construction of a new interchange over live motorway traffic which created additional complexities. There were also accommodation works involving multiple stakeholders and alteration works by Statutory Undertakers and adapting to their required timelines caused unforeseen delays.

A number of disputes arose between the Council and the main contractor and while some disputes were resolved by means of the Contract Disputes Management Procedures, a significant number were referred to conciliation. Following an extensive process the Conciliator recommended a final account settlement agreement which was accepted by both parties to the Contract.

Public Transport

Questions (181)

Holly Cairns

Question:

181. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Transport the steps he is taking to increase transport accessibility in public transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61241/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

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

Under the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008, the National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for promoting the development of an integrated, accessible public transport network.

In light of the NTA's responsibilities in this matter, I have forwarded your question to the NTA for direct reply to you. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Road Safety Authority

Questions (182, 186)

Réada Cronin

Question:

182. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Transport the steps he will take to resolve the situation in relation to driving instructors who are being denied access to basic facilities such as toilets and sanitation for a second year (details supplied) given that they are providing a vital service dealing with the current backlog of persons waiting for driving tests; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61245/21]

View answer

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

186. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some RSA national test centres do not provide toilet or sanitation facilities for driving instructors; if he will take steps to address this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61299/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 182 and 186 together.

Operational arrangements at driving test centres are a matter for the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

I understand from the RSA that prior to the COVID 19 pandemic some test centres across the country offered toilet facilities, and in some cases indoor waiting rooms, where instructors or other accompanying persons could choose to wait while students were out undergoing their test.

To be clear, some test centres around the country are very small and do not have, and have never had, facilities available for accompanying persons.

At present, toilet facilities at test centres are only available to the learner driver who is undertaking his or her driving test. There are no waiting area facilities available in any of the centres for either the learner or the instructor. The learner is contacted by phone while he or she is outside the centre and is then invited inside by the driver tester.

The decision to close public toilet and waiting facilities has been taken by the Road Safety Authority in the interests of public safety and as part of its overall Covid 19 Resumption of Services Protocols and in line with Health and Safety risk assessment procedures which had to be adopted as part of the RSA's resumption plans.

Allowing additional persons to enter the test centre would mean potentially doubling the number of attendees at any given time. The only way to do this without risk to public health would be to reduce the number of tests being provided. In a situation where the RSA is already working to reduced backlogs built up during the pandemic, this would not be in the public interest.

National Transport Authority

Questions (183)

John Lahart

Question:

183. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Transport the amount of income that was taken in by the National Transport Authority from public transport providers (details supplied) in 2020 as compared with 2021; and the amount of subvention that was required to sustain same. [61260/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport, nor decisions on fares.

Following the establishment of the National Transport Authority (NTA) in December 2009, the NTA has statutory responsibility for securing the provision of public transport services by way of public services obligation (PSO) contracts, in respect of services that are socially necessary but commercially unviable. It also has responsibility for allocating PSO Exchequer funding to eligible public transport providers.

I have, therefore, forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Public Transport

Questions (184)

John Lahart

Question:

184. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Transport the use which is made of surplus fares paid on Dublin Bus and public transport in general; and the amount of surplus fares that was paid by consumers to transport providers by individual operator from 2016 to 2020, in tabular form. [61267/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. However, the day-to-day management and operational aspects of public transport (including the use of surplus fares) are the responsibility of the individual operator.

As surplus fares refers to excess cash payments that arise where change is not given, it is a question for Dublin Bus who are the only operator with exact fares. Accordingly, I have forwarded the Deputy's question to Dublin Bus for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Road Tolls

Question No. 186 answered with Question No. 182.

Questions (185)

John Lahart

Question:

185. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Transport the income derived in tolls from the M50 toll bridge from 2016 to 2020, inclusive; and if information in relation to a series of matters (details supplied) will be provided in relation to same in tabular form. [61269/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the operation and management of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. Therefore, matters relating to the day to day operations regarding national roads, including toll roads and the establishment of a system of tolls, are within the remit of TII. More specifically, the statutory power to levy tolls, to make toll bye-laws and to enter into agreements with private investors are vested in TII under Part V of the Roads Act 1993 (as amended).

With regard to the payment mechanism associated with toll operations, it is a contractual obligation which incorporates a traffic guarantee mechanism. Therefore, the contracts for the privately-operated toll schemes are commercial agreements between TII and the Public Private Partnership (PPP) concessionaires concerned.

Noting the above position, I have referred the question to TII for a direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Question No. 186 answered with Question No. 182.

Rail Network

Questions (187)

Johnny Mythen

Question:

187. Deputy Johnny Mythen asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to a document prepared by Iarnród Éireann which states that Iarnród Éireann could return the Wexford-Waterford rail line for approximately €12 to €15 million; the plans that are in place for the use of the rail line; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61315/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I am not specifically aware of the document the Deputy refers to, however there are often a wide range of costs ascribed to re-openings of any disused railway line.

As the Deputy may be aware, my Department, in co-operation with the Department for Infrastructure (Northern Ireland), is undertaking a Strategic Rail Review which will inform the development of the railway sector on the Island of Ireland over the period to 2040. Arup consultants have been appointed and it is expected to take 12 months to complete.

The Strategic Rail Review will review the rail network with regard to a number of ambitions including the potential afforded by disused and closed lines such as the Waterford to Rosslare line.

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 years ahead. As part of the scope of the Review, a consultation process is now underway and I would encourage all interested parties to participate.

Public Transport

Question No. 189 answered with Question No. 188.

Questions (188, 189)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

188. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Transport the funding allocation for public transport in Budget 2021 and Budget 2022, respectively by current and capital funding in tabular form. [61527/21]

View answer

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

189. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Transport the total allocation for public transport in Budget 2022, by current and capital funding; and the accompanying project list to which these allocations are assigned in tabular form. [61528/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 188 and 189 together.

Funding allocations for 2021 and 2022 are set out each year in tabular form in the Revised Estimates for Public Services which is available to view on

The relevant subheads for 2021 are B7 Public Service - The Revised Estimates Volumes for the Public Service (www.gov.ie). Service Provision Payments and B8 Sustainable Mobility Investment Programme, while for 2022 the relevant subheads will be B4 Public Service Provision Payments and B5 Public Transport Investment and A3 Active Travel.

Public Service Provision Payments relates to the Public Service Obligation (PSO) payments to public transport operators.

Capital funding in 2021 was allocated to the following programmes: accessibility retrofit programme; active travel programme; bus programme; heavy rail investment; infrastructure manager multi-annual contract (heavy rail); light rail (Luas and Metro); and the ticketing and technology programme.

Capital funding in 2022 will be allocated to the following programmes: accessibility retrofit programme; bus programme; heavy rail investment; infrastructure manager multi-annual contract (heavy rail); light rail (Luas and Metro); and the ticketing and technology programme and the Active Travel Programme under Subhead A3.

Question No. 189 answered with Question No. 188.

Rail Network

Questions (190)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

190. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Transport the cost and timeframe for delivery regarding the replacement of the Dublin Belfast Enterprise train fleet. [61529/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Deputy may know, the purchase of replacement and additional fleet for the Dublin - Belfast Enterprise service is part of the draft PEACE PLUS programme as submitted to the European Commission. The draft programme has been approved by the Government, Northern Ireland Executive and the North South Ministerial Council and submitted to the European Commission for final consideration and approval with a formal launch expected in 2022.

In terms of overall timing, the PEACE PLUS programme extends to 2027 and the draft programme proposes an allocation of €165million toward the Enterprise project. However, the total overall costs and timeframes for the project are in the early stages of development by both Iarnród Éireann and Translink and will be refined further in due course. It is to be expected that the total costs of the project will be in excess of the €165million likely to be available through the PEACE PLUS programme and will therefore fall to be considered by the Government and the Northern Ireland Executive. This was factored into my Department's considerations as the National Development Plan was developed.

The objective of the project is to enhance passenger experience on the Enterprise and allow the service move toward an hourly frequency in the future.

Electric Vehicles

Questions (191)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

191. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Transport the total allocation for electric vehicles in Budget 2021 and Budget 2022, respectively by current and capital funding in tabular form. [61530/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Providing a sustainable, low-carbon transport system is a key priority of my Department. The Programme for Government commits to 7% average annual emissions reduction to 2030; ultimately, the goal is for a zero-emission mobility system by 2050. The national car and van fleet accounts for almost 60% of all land transport emissions, and so a transition to low emissions vehicles, including EVs, is a necessary step-change to effect a substantial reduction in transport emissions.

The Government has already committed significant funding to support low emitting vehicles through the National Development Plan, which currently includes an allocation of almost €500 million for the period 2021-2025 and additional support from the Climate Action Fund.

Budget 2021

Responsibility for electric vehicle policy transferred to my Department in 2021 along with the EV programme allocation which can be broken down as follows:

Capital

Current

€36,500,000

€600,000

In addition, my Department allocated €15m to support the uptake of electric vehicles, in the taxi, hackney and limousine sector via the eSPSV grant scheme in 2021.

Scheme

Budget Allocation (Capital)

eSPSV grant scheme

€15,000,000

In addition, an alternatively fuelled heavy-duty vehicle grant scheme was launched earlier this year to encourage operators in making the move towards more environmentally friendly models. €3m has been committed to this scheme with further funding to become available in 2022.

The Electric Vehicle Toll Incentive Scheme was launched in 2018 to encourage private car commuters who regularly use tolled roads to consider switching to an EV. Under the Scheme, BEVs and PHEVs qualify for 50% and 25% toll reductions respectively up to a maximum €500 annual threshold for private vehicles and €1,000 for commercial vehicles. The Scheme received €2m in funding in 2021 and it will continue to be funded in 2022.

Budget 2022

€100m has been allocated in 2022 to ensure the continued transition to electric vehicles. This is an almost doubling of the provision made available in 2021 and underpins the Government’s commitment to making electric vehicles accessible to all. This funding will continue to incentivise the switch to electric vehicles as well as enabling the expansion of a fast and rapid electric vehicle charging network to stay ahead of demand.

Preparations are underway to establish an appropriately staffed and resourced Office of Low Emission Vehicles. Dedicated funding will be allocated to the OLEV as a part of the funds allocated to supporting a switch to electric vehicles in 2022.

Ports Policy

Question No. 193 answered with Question No. 177.

Questions (192)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

192. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Transport the works contained in respect of the completion of investments at Dublin Port, the Port of Cork and Shannon Foynes Port as contained in the National Development Plan; the funding allocated to such works; and the years that this investment is to be delivered upon in tabular form. [61533/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

In line with National Ports Policy, State-owned commercial ports operate without any State financial support and derives all their income from commercial operations. Additionally, all capital expenditure projects must be funded without recourse to the Exchequer. Therefore all investment outlined in the table below is non-Exchequer spend. However, the ports are in receipt of funding under the Connecting Europe Facility for these projects as they are on the Ten-T network.

Company

Project

Works

Delivery Date

Port of Cork

Ringaskiddy Redevelopment

The development at Ringaskiddy will see the port over time relocate its business from the current city centre Tivoli location and the City Quays to a new facility at Ringaskiddy. It will enable the Company to future proof the Port as an international gateway for trade and will allow it to continue to meet the needs of its customers and the economic developmental needs locally and at regional and national level.

The development is estimated to cost over €86 million including €50 million infrastructure and €18 million superstructure (cranes/straddle carriers).

The construction work is complete with commissioning works currently underway. Facility to be operational in the first half of 2022.

2022

Dublin Port

Masterplan

A review of the port's Masterplan was published in 2018. As a result of that review, Dublin Port Company is now projecting a spend of some €1.6bn over the period 2010 - 2040. This covers the three Strategic Infrastructure Development (SID) projects: (1) Alexander Basin Redevelopment (ABR), (2) Masterplan 2 (MP2) and (3) the Third & Final Masterplan project (3FM) needed to deliver the full vision of the Masterplan.

Dublin Port

- ABR

Alexandra Basin Redevelopment

Construction on the ABR project is underway.

In addition to providing additional cargo handling capacity, the ABR Project contributes to the future proofing of port facilities through the accommodation of larger sized vessels both in terms of length and draft of vessels.

The developments include the deepening and extension of existing quay walls, the provision of a new 250 metres long Ro-Ro jetty together with two new Ro-Ro berths within the inner basin, infill of the basin at berths 52/53, the construction of a new river berth and dredging of the navigational channel to a depth of 10m below chart datum.

Construction works will be largely complete by 2026 with the exception of completion of the dredging Programme.

2026

Dublin Port

- MP2

In July 2020, An Bord Pleanála granted a 15 year planning permission for the MP2 Project, the second of the three SIDs required to deliver Masterplan 2040.

This permission will allow the construction of two berths with an overall length of 545m for Lo-Lo container ships and two berths with a combined length of 572m for Ro-Ro ferries. The project will include the redevelopment of one of the existing oil jetties to provide an additional berth for container ships as and when the demand for fossil fuels permanently reduces in response to national climate change policies.

Works envisaged under the MP2 Project are currently being planned and construction on the first elements is expected to commence in 2022. Project completion is estimated at 2030.

2030

Dublin Port

- 3FM

The 3FM Project is the third and final strategic infrastructure development project to be brought forward under the Masterplan. This project provides for the redevelopment of port lands and facilities on the Poolbeg Peninsula. The project is at the pre-planning phase and it is intended to lodge a planning application with An Bord Pleanála in early 2023.

2030-2035

Shannon Foynes Port Company (SFPC)

Capacity Extension Works

SFPC's Infrastructure Development Programme (overall programme costed at c. €50m over seven years) is well underway. The investment programme will improve international connectivity through the construction of new quays walls and associated port infrastructure.

The first part of the Jetty expansion programme has been completed. The next part will comprising the projects below:-

Joining of the East and West jetty:Once foreshore consents are in place, it is envisaged the main works will commence in Q1 2022. Reclamation of intertidal mudflats:The procurement process for the main works contractors is underway. It is envisaged construction will commence in Q2 2022.

All projects are expected to be completed by end 2023.

Q4 2023

Question No. 193 answered with Question No. 177.
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