Fianna Fáil Transport Spokesperson Timmy Dooley has said the decision to scrap the planned DART Underground is a “major setback for the greater Dublin area and the economy.”
Deputy Dooley said: “The economic case for DART Underground is strong. The time to invest in key infrastructure projects is now. This project would yield huge economic benefits for the country and transform our public transport network for commuters.
“The Minister’s decision today puts DART Underground off the radar until sometime beyond 2020. In thinking he is saving the public money by putting this project back out for review the Minister could instead be storing up millions of euro in new costs and exposing the future of the project to significant construction inflation in the years ahead.
“Fundamentally, this decision is extremely short-sighted. It amounts to the government making policy on the hoof. Irish Rail has put significant resources and time behind progressing this project and €40m of public money has been spent on it to date.
“The Minister’s assertion today that he remains ‘’unconvinced’’ of the business case for the project is quite remarkable, given that officials both in his Department and at the NTA have continually described the project as ‘’the missing link’’ required to connect the existing rail lines in Dublin and unlock the capacity of the existing rail infrastructure.
“The 7.5km tunnel that would connect Connolly with Heuston would treble the capacity of the rail network in Dublin, for the first time linking all existing rail lines in the Greater Dublin Area into an integrated rail network as well as doubling up as an underground metro for the city centre. Where is this Government’s vision for the future of our transport network? As the economy grows in the years ahead we will have left ourselves hugely exposed to commuter and traffic chaos choking main routes coming into Dublin.
“The Minister’s claim that he is unconvinced by the business case for the project is totally disingenuous. Previous transport assessments by the National Transport Authority (NTA) show the project would provide exceptionally high value for money, based upon traditional cost-benefit analysis and an even higher value for money when the wider economic benefits of the project were assessed.
“Even under the most pessimistic scenarios considered by the NTA in previous business cases, the body recommended that the project would provide excellent value for money. I strongly believe the case for DART Underground is solid. We will regret very much the Minister’s decision to take us back to the design phase of the project, setting this project back years. The Minister seems to be laying the basis for today’s announcement at the door of the NTA. I intend to invite the NTA before the Oireachtas Transport Committee as a matter of priority so that we can discuss the impact of the Minister’s decision on the future planning of our transport priorities.”