Thursday, 16 February 2012
Light Rail Project
Question 13: To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport the discussions he has had with the relevant parties regarding the Luas BXD link; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8582/12]
Question 43: To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport if, in relation to the proposed construction works of the Luas BXD line from St. Stephen's Green to Broombridge, Dublin, he will inform Dáil Éireann that, in the sites where construction works related to the former coincide with future construction works for both the DART Interconnector and Metro North projects, full advantage will be taken of the opportunity to undertake preliminary works relating to both projects where practicable; the way such cross-project considerations form part of the National Transport Authority and the Railway Procurement Agency's overall plans for transportation construction in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8866/12]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 13, 38, 43 and 46 together.
The railway order application for Luas BXD was submitted by the Railway Procurement Agency, RPA, to An Bord Pleanála in June 2010 and the oral hearing for the scheme concluded in April 2011.
An Bord Pleanála wrote recently to the RPA seeking submissions and observations on matters relating to the railway order application including interface issues between BXD and metro north and the DART underground projects. It also wrote to the National Transport Authority, NTA, on this matter given the latter's responsibility for public transport provision and integration in the greater Dublin area and sought the authority's confirmation for the overall approach to be adopted in developing these projects.
An Bord Pleanála also asked the RPA to re-examine the location of one of the proposed stops in Dawson Street. It also indicated it would commission an independent study on an alternative to overhead cables in the city centre.
As part of the detailed preparations for the comprehensive capital review last year, consideration was given to the sequencing of these major projects as well as the funding issues. In this regard, various options relating to sequencing were examined by the RPA and the NTA and their advice was taken into account by me in reaching conclusions on the priorities for funding to 2016.
Both the RPA and the NTA advised me that BXD could proceed to construction in a manner which ensures the subsequent ability to develop metro north and DART underground is preserved. I understand they will be responding to the request for additional information from An Bord Pleanála over the coming weeks.
Subject to the granting of the railway order this year, essential pre-construction works could begin in 2013 with the main works scheduled to begin in 2015.
I welcome the Minister's clarification that there were discussions with the other interested parties in advance. Unfortunately, based on the query coming from An Bord Pleanála, it appears it has concerns about the capacity to maintain the operation of the Luas BXD line during any subsequent works on the metro north and DART underground projects. It feels the line may have to be closed for a time to allow works on the other two projects go ahead. The Minister's response, however, seems to indicate the provision of the Luas BXD line would not prevent the other two projects going ahead in the future.
Will the Minister assure the House that the discussions that took place were not just about the projects going ahead in the future but took into account the capacity of the Luas BXD line to remain operational during the course of any subsequent work on the two projects in question?
I welcome the Minister's commitment to this project. Will the new Luas line run to Broombridge station? Making that link is important because not only will it ensure Luas connectivity across Dublin city but it will also connect the Luas with the rail network which could facilitate travel from Maynooth to the city centre using both the train and the Luas.
Is the Minister aware of the importance of this project in the delivery of the Grangegorman-DIT project? It is undergoing some revision but the delivery of the Luas BXD project would allow contact between the new university at Grangegorman and the rest of the city.
The projects were discussed in great detail. When the revised capital plan to 2016 was decided upon, one question that arose, and one on which I and the Minister of State, Deputy Kelly, sought assurances, was that if the Luas BXD went ahead first, whether it would still be possible to build metro north and the DART underground without having to close down the BXD line for several months. A series of discussions and documents exchanged between the RPA and the NTA showed it could be done. There may need to be temporary restrictions from time to time but it should be possible to work on the other projects without shutting down the BXD line or digging it up.
An Bord Pleanála's request for additional information is reasonable. We all know this from our involvement in the planning process. The information will be made available to An Bord Pleanála soon.
The Luas line will run to Broombridge station. There are three reasons as to why we are not just linking up the two Luas lines but extending them to Broombridge. First, it is to regenerate the areas along the route such as Cabra, Phibsboro and Stoneybatter. Second, it will give life to the DIT Grangegorman project when it goes ahead. Third, it will create an interchange at Broombridge, significantly upgrading that station, and link the Luas network to the Maynooth line allowing people, for example, to get on a train at Leixlip, switch at Broombridge and go on to Dundrum.