In 1862, the Dublin-to-Meath railway line was constructed comprising a branch from Clonsilla to Navan. One hundred years later, Córas Iompair Éireann closed and lifted the line. There is only one functioning line into the middle of the county, that is, the Drogheda to Tara Mines line. Tara Mines is one of the few freight lines operating in the country at present and it takes approximately 40 HGVs off the road every day. The NTA has refused to transform that freight line back into a passenger line stating that due to the journey time from Navan to Dublin via Drogheda, it would not be used, but when one considers the figures I will cite later on, that is debatable.
In 1946, the rail line functioned into County Meath while the population was only 60,000. Now the population of County Meath is 200,000. As a Dublin man, the Minister will be happy to hear that there will be 250,000 of us Meath people living in the country very shortly.
Each morning, more Meath people leave the county to go to work than work in the county. That is the only county in the country where that happens. We have the notoriety of having the highest rate of commuting in the country. Yet Navan is the largest town in the country without a rail line. That has a massive cost for society. It is a major cost on business, it is a major cost on enterprise and it also involves a major cost on families.
For the average family who are commuting from Navan currently, the commute at rush hour takes roughly three hours a day. If one takes that back and forth, it is roughly equivalent to 90 days unpaid work for everybody who is commuting from Navan currently. If one lives in places such as Oldcastle, Athboy or Trim, that daily commute often increases to four hours a day in rush hour - two hours in the morning and two hours back to those places - which is the equivalent of 120 days unpaid work on an annual basis. There is certainly a major cost on business, but the Minister can imagine a mother or father undertaking 720 hours commuting on an annual basis from these towns and how their family life is negatively affected as a result.
There are also major costs to the families themselves. If one lives in Kells and works in south Dublin, one will pay two tolls a day. This involves a cost of €2,350 a year on tolls for anybody in Kells or Oldcastle working in south Dublin. The average cost of running a car is €4,500 on an annual basis. Private transportation is a significant cost for individuals.
There are also massive environmental costs. This has been brought to the fore today, which is a good development. Ireland faces approximately €600 million worth of fines by 2020 if we do not meet our climate change targets. By 2030, we could face €5.5 billion worth of fines in this country if we do not meet our climate change obligations. There is a trend within transportation, of which the Minister has charge, of an increase of between 10% and 16% in the level of CO2 being emitted before 2020. We are going completely in the wrong direction with regards CO2 emissions in transportation at present. That is not only about polar bears. We are talking about an increase in temperature of between 2.6° to 4.8° Celsius, which will lead to untold environmental damage and deaths.
Industry, business, family, safety, environment and health are being radically damaged at present due to the lack of provision of projects such as the Navan-to-Dublin rail line.