Thursday, 29 March 2018
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Rail Network Expansion
379. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his Department has published a cost-benefit analysis of the cost of extending the DART service to Drogheda, as compared to the cost of upgrading the signalling system along this route and in Dublin city centre to facilitate an increase in the frequency of commuter rail service along this line; his plans to publish the analysis done on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14881/18]
As the Deputy is aware, the National Transport Authority's (NTA) 'Transport Strategy for the GDA 2016-2035' proposes implementation of the overall DART Expansion Programme. As outlined in the recently published 'National Development Plan 2018-2027: Project Ireland 2040' (NDP), the DART Expansion Programme is a series of projects that will create a full metropolitan area DART Network? for Dublin with all of the lines linked and connected over the period of the plan.
A business case - including a cost benefit analysis - was carried out on the DART Expansion Programme in 2015 by Aecom consultants for the NTA. The business case is available on the NTA website. A key element of the economic appraisal was a cost benefit analysis the results of which indicated a strong economic case for the DART Expansion Programme.
The initial sequencing of investment under the NDP will focus on delivery of non-underground tunnel elements of the Programme using the recently opened rail link and existing connector tunnel under the Phoenix Park (which has provided the option for Kildare commuters to access the city centre stations of Connolly, Tara Street and Pearse). This sequencing and focus includes buying additional fleet for the DART network and measures such as re-signalling, junction and station changes to provide expanded services. The next step will be to provide fast, high-frequency electrified services to Drogheda on the Northern Line, Celbridge/Hazelhatch on the Kildare Line, Maynooth and M3 Parkway on the Maynooth/Sligo Line, while continuing to provide DART services on the South-Eastern Line as far south as Greystones. It will also include new stations to provide interchange with bus, LUAS and Metro networks.
The significant benefit to using the recently opened rail link and existing connector tunnel under the Phoenix Park and the proposed sequence of investment, is that it will enable additional passenger services to be put in place much earlier using existing infrastructure with some enhancements. This integrated rail network will provide a core, high-capacity transit system for the region and will deliver a very substantial increase in peak-hour capacity on all lines from Maynooth and Celbridge/Hazelhatch as well as Drogheda and Greystones. The route for the remaining element of the overall DART Expansion Programme, the DART Underground Tunnel, will be established and protected to allow for its future delivery.
In light of the NTA's responsibility in this area, I have 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.