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Statement by Minister Donohoe on Dart Underground

22nd September 2015 - Paschal Donohoe TD

Following consideration at the Government meeting this morning (Tuesday), the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe T.D., announced that the DART Underground project will not proceed as currently designed but will be redesigned to provide a lower cost technical solution for the project. The estimated cost of the currently designed DART Underground Project is €3 billion and the cost of the currently envisaged DART Expansion Programme* is €4 billion. (This €4 billion is inclusive of the €3 billion DART Underground Project).

This decision has been made in the context of preparations for the next Capital Plan from 2016, the details of which are currently being finalised.

The National Transport Authority (NTA), whose statutory remit covers the planning of public transport in the Greater Dublin Area, was requested to review the Dart Underground project in conjunction with the updating of the long term transport strategy for the GDA region. Based on the outcome of the updated business case, the NTA recommended that the project, which remains a key element of integrated transport for the Greater Dublin Area, be redesigned to provide a lower cost technical solution, whilst retaining the required rail connectivity.

The Minister endorses the NTA recommendations and intends to provide funding in the new Capital Plan to progress redesign and planning for the revised project. The Minister also intends to provide funding for other elements of the overall DART Expansion Programme, including, in particular, electrification of the Northern line to extend the DART to Balbriggan and works to increase frequency of existing services.

Minister Donohoe said: ‘As Government works to further stabilize the public finances, we must continue to seek the best value for taxpayers’ money in everything we do. A project of such magnitude – in the order of €4 billion – has to be designed and delivered in a way that best ensures cost effectiveness for the taxpayer and the State. The overall DART Expansion Programme has a key role to play in delivering an efficient transport system and I intend to progress key elements of the overall Programme but the NTA’s recommendations that the tunnel element can be delivered at a reduced cost to the taxpayer have to be accepted’.

“That is why I informed Government today that I endorsed the NTA’s recommendation and secured its approval for the tunnel element of the project to be redesigned. I will seek, within the resources available in the next Capital Plan, to provide funds to progress the redesign and planning of the project. In the interest of advancing the development of our rail network so that it better meets the needs of commuters, I also informed Government that I intend to progress elements of the overall DART Expansion Programme which bring value in themselves, subject to appropriate business cases and the availability of funding.”

The Minister also confirmed that the compulsory acquisition powers of the Railway Order for the existing DART Underground project would not now be activated and indicated that the Government has agreed that a new Railway Order be sought for the redesigned project in due course.

The Minister indicated that in respect of other major capital projects which will form part of a new Draft Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area, including the Fingal/North Dublin Transport Study, it is his intention to make further announcements on these shortly in the context of the new Capital Plan.  

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