Tuesday, 19 April 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
371. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in view of his support for infrastructural projects on the island of Ireland, his plans to support the railway transport corridor to the north west; in particular, if he will refer to the Transport 21 project, the western area’s Atlantic road corridor and the comprehensive rail system in the north west which includes the five derailed counties, Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan, Tír Eoghain and Fermanagh and join up to Sligo to integrate into the Irish rail network. [8394/11]
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The upgrading and extension of the mainline railway system is a matter for consideration by Irish Rail in the first instance. The Strategic Rail Review (SRR) completed by Irish Rail in 2003 set out priorities for future rail investment in Ireland, with a twenty-year strategic policy framework, and fed into Transport 21. The SRR did not include the development of rail services in Cavan, Monaghan or Donegal in its recommendations. As a consequence, no capital provision for such rail development has been considered for inclusion in my Department’s investment frameworks.
Furthermore in the context of the current difficult economic situation the first priority in relation to prioritising available funding for mainline rail services will be to protect existing investment and ensure continued high safety standards. This will be a key criteria in the review of capital spending for my Department arising from the recent decision by Government regarding the preparation of a new capital investment framework from 2012. With regard to the railway lines mentioned by the Deputy, no capital budget has been set aside for these lines by the previous government. It is not expected that the capital envelope will increase over the course of the current government.
The question of the development of rail services in Tyrone and Fermanagh is a matter for the authorities in Northern Ireland in the first instance. Issues of concern relating to cross-border public transport services are discussed on a regular basis under the auspices of the North-South Ministerial Council. I am not aware that a rail service as proposed has been raised. In relation to the Atlantic Road Corridor the section from Gort to Tuam (M17/18) is at tender stage. This is a PPP contract and notwithstanding the difficult financial environment the NRA is continuing to work with tenderers in an effort to reach agreement on the contract.
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