Ireland faces a significant challenge to meet its international greenhouse gas reduction commitments. Currently, Ireland's transport demand and emissions are increasing, with approximately three quarters of all journeys made by private cars accounting for over 55% of our transport emissions. Increasing modal shift away from cars and towards public transport and active travel will play a vital role in our national mitigation effort. Accordingly, I welcome the fact that passenger growth on public transport has risen in 2016 for the fourth consecutive year with an increase of almost 10m trips.
Rail plays an important role in meeting increased passenger demand and also providing an energy-efficient mode of transport. Electrified rail use, in particular, is capable of achieving low emissions through utilising renewable sources of energy. Considerable progress has been achieved in increasing capacity on the light and heavy rail networks. For instance, the Luas Cross City project is scheduled for completion before the end of the year and it is estimated that the new line will add an extra 8 to 10 million journeys per annum on the Luas network. Also, in 2017 we will see an increase in Dart frequency and additional commuter services through the newly-opened Phoenix Park Tunnel.
Rail operators are also playing an active role in emission reductions on existing services, introducing a range of technical measures including automatic engine shutdown, configuring train length to match passenger demand and installing traction control software.
Furthermore, I am committed to the further development of electric fuelled public transport, particularly along high demand routes in the GDA where capacity requirements make such investment cost-effective. We are progressing plans on the New Metro North project which is due to commence construction in 2021; while €82 million has been allocated to the DART Expansion Programme between 2019 and 2022 to begin the extension of the DART line to Balbriggan, and the design and planning of DART services to Maynooth in the west and Hazelhatch in the southwest.