Thursday, 16 December 2021
Ceisteanna (Atógáil) - Questions (Resumed) - Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
I have no doubt Deputy O'Rourke welcomes the inclusion in the draft transport strategy for the greater Dublin area, GDA, of a new rail link to Navan as one of its many projects and programmes to be delivered by 2042. I know the issue of a rail link to Navan was one of several that generated a significant number of submissions during the original public consultation held by the National Transport Authority, NTA, in November 2020. The GDA transport strategy is subject to a formal statutory approval process and will ultimately be submitted for ministerial approval in 2022. Therefore, it is not appropriate at this juncture to speak about prioritisation of one particular project over another.
As the Deputy is aware, there is a long lead-in time for big projects like this. If it is included in the final strategy, this project will require significant planning and design before it is shovel-ready. As it stands, the draft strategy, which covers all modes of transport and all counties in the GDA, proposes delivery of the Navan rail line in the latter half of the strategy period. On the proposal itself, the background report prepared for the NTA considered again the strategic rationale for such a rail link. It considered rail and bus options, re-examined the potential alignments of a rail link and provided a high-level assessment of cost and demand. While the benefit-to-cost ratio returned by the economic assessment was less than that seen for some other projects, the report concluded there was a strong strategic rationale for the proposal and that is why it has been brought forward for inclusion in the draft strategy.
Consultation on the draft strategy is currently open and is running until 17 December. I encourage the Deputy to make the case for the rail link in the final version of thestrategy, which will be submitted for ministerial approval in 2022.