Rail Network

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Question No. 646 answered with Question No. 638.

Questions Nos. 647 to 654, inclusive, answered with Question No. 631.

Questions Nos. 655 to 657, inclusive, answered with Question No. 638.

Questions Nos. 658 and 659 answered with Question No. 631.

Ceisteanna (645)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

645. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount spent operating and maintaining each rail line in 2018. [26145/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The issue raised is a matter for Iarnród Éireann and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A
Question No. 646 answered with Question No. 638.
Questions Nos. 647 to 654, inclusive, answered with Question No. 631.
Questions Nos. 655 to 657, inclusive, answered with Question No. 638.
Questions Nos. 658 and 659 answered with Question No. 631.

National Mitigation Plan Implementation

Ceisteanna (660)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

660. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will report on item No. 72 of the update report on the national mitigation plan (details supplied); the number of members in the group; the grades of each; the date on which the group was established; the number of times it has met; the main purpose of the group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26196/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The National Mitigation Plan proposed the establishing of a Behavioural Economics Working Group recognising the particular role that understanding human behaviour plays in effecting passenger mode shift. A Working Group approach was envisaged to review research and best practice in motivating significant modal shift away from cars towards public and active travel.

Since then, specifically to acknowledge the importance of human and psychological factors in influencing the uptake of sustainable solutions, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) have established a dedicated Behavioural Economics Unit which is tasked with researching and communicating methods to encourage people to make better energy use decisions across a range of areas including some aspects of the transport sector. My Department is working with this Unit on transport projects and in 2018 co-funded a research project with SEAI entitled ‘Examining a range of behavioural nudges that would assist in decarbonising the national car fleet’. The work of this SEAI Unit, securing relevant research and the collaboration with my Department were considered more effective means of advancing this key work than establishing a separate transport specific Behavioural Economics Working Group.

My Department is very aware that behavioural insight to influence change in the transport sector is essential. Supporting a shift away from the use of the passenger car, where feasible, remains central to the transport sector's response, not only to the climate change challenge but also to air quality and congestion challenges.

The National Development Plan has earmarked €8.6 billion for investment in public and sustainable transport to improve the capacity and attractiveness of the networks. Since 2013 we have seen an increase of almost 31 million journeys on subsidised public transport and commercial bus services, with an increase of 16 million passengers in 2017 (a 7% rise on 2016 figures) across Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, Iarnród Éireann and Luas services.

Furthermore, my Department supports a wide range of active travel behavioural change programmes, including Green Schools, Smarter Workplaces and Campuses, and CycleRight which continue to promote the many and varied benefits of sustainable transport and are instrumental in the decision making of many to reduce car use and switch to more sustainable modes of transport.

Similarly, the recently published Climate Action Plan contains several actions which seek to increase the level of modal shift. A copy of the Plan can be found on the website of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, at the following link: www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/climate-action/topics/climate-action-plan/Pages/climate-action.aspx.

Road Projects

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (661)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

661. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding projects (details supplied) as of 17 June 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26208/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, development and construction of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

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

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Electric Vehicles

Ceisteanna (662)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

662. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of vehicles in the State fleet as of 2019; and the number of these vehicles which are fully electric vehicles. [26225/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the National Vehicle File is categorised based on motor tax classifications the information requested by the Deputy is not readily available in the format sought; however, the following relevant data has been extracted from the File. As of the 31st of May 2019 there were 6,573 vehicles registered under the ‘State Owned, Emergency Vehicles and Rescue Vehicles’ tax classification; the Deputy should note that this definition potentially omits many state/public vehicles that are not registered under this tax exemption category. Based on this definition, there are 13 electric “State Vehicles” registered.

The transition to alternatively-fuelled vehicles, including electric vehicles (EVs), is a necessary step-change if Ireland is to effect a substantial reduction in transport emissions, particularly in the passenger car sector which accounts for over half of all land transport emissions. In order to expedite the deployment of low carbon technologies, especially the uptake of EVs, my Department and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment jointly convened an inter-Departmental Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce to consider a full suite of potential measures available to Government. The role of public sector leadership in encouraging EV uptake was examined by the Taskforce; it was recommended that the National Procurement Service introduce a new public procurement framework contract for EVs which would allow public bodies to purchase EVs with reduced administrative burden. This recommendation was echoed in the recently published Climate Action Plan (Action 149). It is expected that this measure will promote greater uptake of EVs within the State Vehicle Fleet.

While the initial uptake of EVs in Ireland was relatively slow, there are a range of factors accepted internationally as being barriers to transition to EV technology including limited vehicle choice, range anxiety and low consumer awareness. This slower than anticipated transition to EVs was not Ireland-specific and did not indicate a lack of ambition or support. Increasing range performances, technology advancements, greater affordability and improved consumer choice are beginning to trigger large-scale change. This year we saw a marked increase in EV sales; at the end of May 2019 there were 11,418 EVs were registered on Irish roads (6,892 full battery electric and 4,526 plug-in hybrids).

Beyond the passenger car fleet I am also committed to encouraging greater uptake of low emitting technologies, including electrification, in the public transport fleet. In the urban bus fleet, I have outlined a clear trajectory to low emission buses, with no more diesel-only buses purchased for the urban public bus fleet from next month and by 2035 to only have low emitting buses in the urban PSO bus fleet. We also plan to create a full metropolitan area DART network for the Greater Dublin Area; this is the part of the national rail network that carries over 75% of total rail passengers each year. It will mean high-frequency electrified rail services to Drogheda, Celbridge/Hazelhatch, Maynooth and M3 Parkway, as well as new interchange stations with bus, LUAS and Metro networks. These major projects will help supplement the range of viable low carbon alternatives to private passenger car travel and positively impact on our sectoral emissions profile.

Environmental Regulations

Ceisteanna (663)

John Brassil

Ceist:

663. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when he plans to ban the import of Euro 5 engines and older; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26319/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The transition to alternatively-fuelled vehicles and away from fossil-fuelled vehicles is a necessary step-change to effect a substantial reduction in transport emissions, particularly in the passenger car fleet which accounts for 52% of total transport emissions.

While there are no certainties in predicting future technologies, the move to zero-tailpipe emissions of the national car fleet represents a feasible option. Indications from car manufacturers and energy market analysts suggest that mass market adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is probable. In order to stimulate this widespread adoption of EVs, as well as other alternative fuels, a Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce was established in 2016 to recommend to Government a range of measures available to increase the uptake rates of low emitting vehicles. Consequently, the State has provided and maintained various incentives to mitigate the cost of and encourage the transition away from conventional fossil fuels. In the recently published Climate Action Plan to Tackle Climate Breakdown an ambitious target of having nearly 1 million over electric vehicles on Irish roads by 2030 was set.

Over the coming years, further steps will be needed to help move Ireland towards this target and, more broadly, our national emissions targets, and the Climate Action Plan indicates a pathway to achieving this. Specifically in relation to the Deputy’s suggestion about restricting imports, he will be aware that one of the pillars of EU legislation is to permit the free movement of goods between Member States, and that this allows European citizens greater consumer choice. Accordingly, there are no plans to introduce a ban on the importation of vehicles from member states; imported vehicles from non-EU jurisdictions, though, could potentially be subject to more stringent restrictions and this will be kept under review.

Bus Services

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (664)

James Lawless

Ceist:

664. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to planned changes to the 126 bus route in order to address the issues with unreliability on the route. [26359/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The issue raised is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) in conjunction with Bus Éireann and I have 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.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Road Traffic Legislation

Ceisteanna (665)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

665. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the regulations that govern roadside vendors, for example, strawberry sales trailers. [26377/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Section 71 of the Roads Act 1993 contains provisions relating to unauthorised signs, caravans, vehicles etc. on public roads.

Subsection (1) of this Section, states that any person who, without lawful authority or the consent of a road authority, erects, places or retains, on a public road, any caravan, vehicle or other structure or thing (whether on wheels or not) used for the purposes of advertising, the sale of goods, the provision of services or other similar purpose shall be guilty of an offence.

I understand that the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation's Casual Trading Act, 1995 provides for the regulation of casual trading and you may wish to refer to that Department for further information in that regard.

Freedom of Information Requests

Ceisteanna (666)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

666. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of freedom of information requests granted, part granted, refused, transferred to an appropriate body, withdrawn or handled outside freedom of information in 2018, in tabular form. [26400/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The information the Deputy has requested is included below in tabular form.

-

No. of FOIs

Granted

104

Part-Granted

135

Refused

96

Transferred to the Appropriate Body

3

Withdrawn

26

Handled outside of FOI

26

Climate Change Adaptation Plans

Ceisteanna (667)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

667. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the new public transport projects to be delivered under the Climate Action Plan 2019 that are not already part of an existing plan, such as the National Development Plan 2018-2027; the cost of these new projects; the way in which they are to be funded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26464/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The recently published Climate Action Plan to Tackle Climate Breakdown sets out a whole-of-Government approach to climate action and maps a potential pathway to meet Ireland's 2030 emission reduction commitments. The Plan clearly recognises that Ireland must significantly step up its commitments to tackle climate disruption.

The transport sector, which accounts for about 20% of Ireland overall carbon emissions (and about 27% of Ireland's accountable emissions in the non-ETS sector), plays a key role in the national decarbonisation effort. My Department has worked hard to develop an ambitious, challenging and wide-ranging set of actions for inclusion in the Climate Action Plan, particularly in relation to public transport and active travel.

A critical challenge is reducing the 52% of transport emissions that come from private car use. Our aim in expanding the carrying capacity and the attractiveness of our public transport and active travel networks is to provide a viable sustainable alternative to private car use for more people for more of their journeys. Supporting a shift towards more sustainable transport in this way will help reduce congestion, lower climate-harmful emissions, and improve air quality.

Under Project Ireland 2040, an indicative allocation of €8.6 billion is assigned to support sustainable mobility. This will make public transport and active travel a viable alternative for more people for more of their journeys. The substantial investment will be used to support MetroLink, BusConnects, the DART Expansion Programme and vastly improved active travel infrastructure in all our major cities. In fact, the National Development Plan budget for new public transport/active travel projects is well above what we will be investing in new roads, which is a reversal of the balance of investment between these two areas in the past.

It is clear that prioritising investment in our public transport network is working; during the reporting period of 2017 alone, an additional 16 million public transport passenger journeys were made in Ireland while the number of walking and cycling trips also increased, particularly within the Greater Dublin Area.

To ensure that the carbon footprint of this significant modal shift is minimised we are committed to improving the energy and emissions efficiencies of the public transport fleet. Of course, because less than 5% of Ireland's transport-derived CO2 emissions arise from public transport, we need to realise that efforts to "green" the fleet will have only a limited impact in reducing emissions, but these measures are nonetheless important in leadership terms. In the urban bus fleet, a clear trajectory to low emission buses has been outlined in the Climate Action Plan. We are committed to no longer purchasing diesel-only buses for the urban public bus fleet from next month and by 2035 to only have low emitting buses in the urban PSO bus fleet.

For rail we’ve significantly increased the amounts of money made available each year to support the maintenance and renewal of the heavy rail network, which is now funded at the so-called ‘steady state’ level as measured on an annual basis. That means more investment in important works such as track relaying, ballast-cleaning and signal improvements all resulting in an improved passenger experience across the country. This year, I expect construction to start on a new National Train Control Centre which will be a state-of-the-art network management centre and it will lay the groundwork for the expansion of services planned in the years ahead.

It is equally important to consider the potential contribution of electrified rail to decarbonisation objectives. We plan to create a full metropolitan area DART network for the Greater Dublin Area; this is the part of the national rail network that carries over 75% of total rail passengers each year. It will mean high-frequency electrified rail services to Drogheda, Celbridge/Hazelhatch, Maynooth and M3 Parkway, as well as new interchange stations with bus, LUAS and Metro networks. In this regard, the NTA and Iarnród Éireann have recently commenced a procurement process for the establishment of a 10 year framework agreement for the purchase of additional lower emitting rail fleet required for the expansion of the DART network. These major rail projects will help supplement the range of viable low carbon alternatives to private passenger car travel and positively impact on our sectoral emissions profile.

Furthermore, as set out in the Climate Action Plan we have also committed to next year commencing an evaluation of the potential economic benefits associated with development of a high-speed network along the major inter-urban rail network against improvements to the existing network to deliver high speeds.

Greenways Funding

Ceisteanna (668)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

668. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of a feasibility review for the Quiet Man greenway in County Galway; when it is due for completion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26519/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Last Friday the 21st of June, I announced funding of €40 million for 10 new Greenway projects. While an application was made by Galway County Council during last years funding call for the Quiet Man Greenway, it was not included among the projects awarded funding.

In this particular round of funding I sought projects which were ready to begin construction in the near future. Unfortunately as the application was for a feasibility study it was not in a position to receive funding on this occasion.

My Department has no role in the proposed feasibility study and I am not in a position to provide the Deputy with further information in this regard.

Greenways Development

Questions No. 670 and 671 answered with Question No. 620.

Ceisteanna (669)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

669. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of applications in each county for greenway developments to date in tabular form; the funding provided to date for greenway developments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26520/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Greenways programme, previously called the National Cycle Network, was launched in 2012. The calls for applications held since then have taken place in 2012, 2013 & 2018. In total, 151 applications have been made to this Department for Greenways since 2012. Below is a table breaking down the number of applications by county:

County

No. of Applications

Carlow

2

Cavan

3

Clare

5

Cork

7

Donegal

7

Dublin

9

Galway

12

Kerry

8

Kildare

5

Kilkenny

2

Laois

4

Leitrim

5

Limerick

9

Longford

4

Louth

6

Mayo

4

Meath

5

Monaghan

3

Offaly

4

Roscommon

3

Sligo

5

Tipperary

9

Waterford

9

Westmeath

7

Wexford

9

Wicklow

5

Total

151

Since 2012, a total of €80,180,065 has been allocated to Greenways all around the country. This includes the €40m awarded last week by myself and Minister of State Griffin to 10 new projects.

Questions No. 670 and 671 answered with Question No. 620.