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Metro North, expanded Dart and a Cork-Limerick motorway 'need to be delivered'

Engineers want a body to be established in order to support the new 10-year capital spending plan.

How the original Ballymun Metro stop would have looked.
How the original Ballymun Metro stop would have looked.
Image: RPA

A SINGLE STATE body to handle capital investment is needed to deliver the outstanding challenges to the country, engineers have warned.

The warning has come from Engineers Ireland, who today launched their infrastructure report – The State of Ireland 2017.

The report calls for a body to be established in order to support the new 10-year capital spending plan and the forthcoming National Planning Framework.

Dr Kieran Feighan, the President of Engineers Ireland, says that the delivery of infrastructure in Ireland is “frustrating”.

“While progress has been made in terms of increasing capital investment and quickening of project delivery, there are still some frustrating delays with infrastructure.

“To ensure it can meet its infrastructural goals, the government must address how we deliver our capital projects and Engineers Ireland strongly believes a single infrastructure unit is required to plan investment in key areas such as housing, transport, education, health, energy, water and the digital economy.”

Feighan points to the UK and Switzerland as examples of single bodies which handle infrastructure.

The report recommends that the government:

  • Accelerate the development of Metro North, the DART Expansion Programme, M20 and Luas line extensions
  • Incentivise consumers and private car operators to purchase electric vehicles (EVs) and plan for the electrification of the heavy rail network
  • Encourage car-sharing to discourage multicar households and on-street urban parking
  • Improve connectivity of the north-west and the Atlantic Corridor to Ireland’s seaports
  • New housing developments should include provision for infrastructure to support broadband rollout
  • Award the contract for the National Broadband Plan without delay

The Metro idea was revived in 2015 when the last government announced plans to build a 14-stop line by 2026 as part of a capital investment plan. It will cost over €2 billion. The M20 plan, which would upgrade the Cork to Limerick road, has been shelved since 2011.

The report adds that Ireland should develop 5G cellular infrastructure and better fund the National Cyber Security Centre.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, who launched the report says that the promised €500 million a year from Ireland’s “rainy day fund” will fund much of the work.

“Last week’s Summer Economic Statement reaffirmed our commitment to increase investment by an additional €500 million in each of the years 2019-2021, further developing our economic and social infrastructure and supporting national competitiveness. In fact, capital spending in 2021 will be up 85% relative to 2016.

“Building a modern capital infrastructure that underpins economic growth, raised living standards and a sustainable environment is vital.”

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