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Shane Ross says the Dart Underground still might happen

Back in September, Paschal Donohoe said the original €3 billion project was being scrapped.

28/6/2016. Cabinet Meetings Shane Ross Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

PLANS FOR THE Dart Underground are still “alive”, according to Transport Minister Shane Ross.

Back in September, Ross’ predecessor Paschal Donohoe said the original €3 billion project was being replaced by a “lower cost technical solution”, while the train service would be extended to Balbriggan by 2022.

The underground tunnel was due to link all rail, Dart and Luas services in the capital.

Source: Iarnrod Eireann/YouTube

Speaking at the Oireachtas Transport Committee yesterday, Ross said more capital investment needs to be made in public transport, “particularly in Dublin where there is terrible congestion”.

“The proposal for the Dart underground was put in the deep freeze in 2010 and it is now in the fridge.

There is every intention of its being a project. It is being designed and kept alive and will certainly be eligible for EU funds.
We must not lose sight of that project along with Metro North and others. If funds became available the timetable for that and the Dart Underground should be looked at anew because they are so important.

Ross said the Department of Transport “examines the big ticket items regularly” and “changed and updated its capital appraisal rules this year for that very reason”.

“It is not something that should be set in stone because of the changing demands in transport and roads. It would be wrong for me to say we are going to change it and spend more on public transport and less on roads because that would have detrimental effects elsewhere but I will keep it under constant review.

“The interesting point here is whether we should be making big decisions of that sort. Maybe we should but I do not want to make any promises about that now,” he stated.

More money 

Ross said he plans to go to Donohoe, now the Public Expenditure and Reform Minister, to “ask for larger sums for capital investment”.

4/9/2014 Trains Stations Source: Sam Boal

“I think he is fairly sympathetic to that ambition … He has always specifically mentioned the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport as one of his top three priorities. He appreciates that as an ex-minister in the department.”

Robert Troy, Fianna Fáil’s transport spokesperson, asked if there is an “an opportunity to borrow from Europe to invest in public transport when interest rates are at an incredibly low rate”.

By doing so we would increase our capacity and ensure we have a public transport system in the capital city that is fit for purpose, that will encourage people to leave their cars at home and use public transport instead.

“When we increase our capacity, we increase the number of people who pay fares and generate greater revenue and we could ensure that we can fund future public transport. We have to ask ourselves how can we relieve congestion,” Troy said.

Read: Dublin City Council backs call for new Luas trams to be automated 

Read: Does Dublin ‘urgently’ need Dart Underground?

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Órla Ryan

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