Written Answers. - Dublin Light Rail System.

Robert Molloy

Ceist:

113 Mr. Molloy asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications the nature of the consultation programme that is currently under way in connection with the proposed light rail transit system for Dublin; whether this process could lead to substantial changes in the routes announced, and the number of lines; whether this process will allow the option of going underground in the city centre area to be examined; when the consultation process will be concluded; the date for the proposed mandatory public inquiry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8913/96]

Robert Molloy

Ceist:

114 Mr. Molloy asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications the level of projected passenger traffic at Dublin Airport that was used in assessing the potential market for the northside light rail transit line to the airport in respect of the proposed light rail transit system for Dublin; the time savings that will be achieved by trams over buses in the central area between the two canals when the new system becomes operational; the estimated cost of running the sections between the two canals underground; whether his Department has investigated this option; the carrying capacity of the system in terms of passengers per hour and per line; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8914/96]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 113 and 114 together.

The public consultation programme being undertaken by CIE involves an extensive series of public meetings, exhibitions, surveys and bilateral discussions with interested parties. Its purpose is to explain the concept of light rail, to outline specific light rail proposals, to listen carefully to any concerns expressed in relation to those proposals and to respond to those concerns where possible.

The present consultative process will continue until a statutory public inquiry into all aspects of the light rail project is held towards the end of the year. Legislation providing for this and other matters relevant to the implementation of light rail in Dublin will be published in the very near future. A different, but no less important, type of public consultation will be necessary once construction gets under way.
I have made it clear on numerous occasions that no final decisions will be taken on the precise routes until the public consultation process is completed, a public inquiry has been held and EU approval procedures have been finalised. The proposed statutory public inquiry will enable people who believe that light rail is not the appropriate solution to Dublin's transport problems, that other routes should be given priority or that alternative engineering approaches, such as tunnelling, should be adopted to put forward their views and challenge the DTI recommendations and the detailed planning work of CIE's project team.
Turning to the more detailed question asked by the Deputy, it is important first of all to set out the policy context. The DTI strategy, which has been accepted by the Government as the policy framework for transportation planning in Dublin, recommended an on-street light rail network. It specifically recommended against an underground — DART — system on economic, financial and accessibility grounds. The recommended light rail network comprises a core network of lines to Tallaght, Cabinteely and Ballymun and a phase two network, including an extension of the Ballymun line to Dublin Airport and Swords for implementation when the core network had been completed. The DTI report also recommended a quality bus corridor serving Dublin Airport and suggested further evaluation of a conventional rail link to the airport from the mainline rail network.
Data relating to the Dublin Airport link can be found in chapters 4 and 7 of the DTI final report, published last year. Forecasts of journey times by different modes in the three corridors that form the core light rail network and the passenger carrying capacity of light rail are published in DTI Technical Volume 6. I am advised that, on the basis of a very preliminary estimate, CIE calculates the additional cost associated with constructing a two kilometre underground section of light rail in the city centre would be in the region of £65 million. This would include the cost of stations and of upgrading the rolling stock.