I propose to take Questions Nos. 139 and 140 together.
As the Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. However, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the provision of public transport services and for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), which comprises 7 local authority areas, including Kildare.
The DART+ Programme is a multi-billion euro programme to upgrade rail services in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA). DART+ will provide frequent, modern, electrified services to Drogheda on the Northern Commuter Line, the Kildare Line (between Hazelhatch and Celbridge), Maynooth and M3 Parkway on the Maynooth / Sligo Line, while improving DART services on the South-East Line as far south as Greystones. The DART+ Programme includes both the upgrade of the railway infrastructure and the purchase of new fleet and will effectively double the capacity of the existing network and DART level services.
DART+ West, Maynooth/M3 Line, is the first element of the DART+ Programme to be progressed. It will significantly increase the number of trains operating on the Maynooth/M3 Parkway rail corridor and upon completion will allow for a potential doubling of the services per hour, tripling passenger capacity. A first round of non-statutory public consultations for DART+ West concluded last October. Consideration of submissions made is underway and further design development and assessment of options is being undertaken. The next round of consultation is expected to take place this Quarter.
DART+ South West - the current Kildare Line - is the next element. Iarnród Éireann are currently progressing the options selection process and it is anticipated that a public consultation on the emerging preferred route will be undertaken also in Q1 2021. This will provide an opportunity for all members of the public to comment on the emerging preferred route.
Separately, the Deputy will also be aware of Government's approval last year of the proposed purchase of 41 additional carriages to the inter-city railcar (ICR) fleet. The carriages are expected to be delivered through 2022 and, when introduced, will increase capacity across both the Maynooth and Kildare Lines, thus benefitting commuters of North Kildare in advance of the delivery of DART+.
In light of the NTA's responsibility in the area, I have also forwarded the Deputies questions to the Authority for further information on the issues raised. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.