Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport Robert Troy TD says the decision by the previous Fine Gael Government to allow the DART Underground railway order to lapse is now coming back to haunt the State.

Deputy Troy made the comments after it was revealed a company is seeking planning permission to develop a multi-story office block on a site designated as a railway station for the DART Underground project.

Deputy Troy explained, “This project has already cost the taxpayer €44m in consultants, design and staff costs for the initial planning and design stages. It was granted a railway order by An Bord Pleanála which has to be factored into consideration for future planning applications. However the Government allowed this railway order to lapse in September 2015. This resulted in the proposed site for the new Pearse Station being sold to Rail Investments Ltd.

“Rail Investments Ltd has now sought planning permission for a multi-story office block on the site. The State still has the option to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order should the DART Underground project proceed. However the cost of purchasing the site is likely to be substantially higher if planning permission is granted for a multi-story office block. The end result is that the State will have to fork out even more money to progress a project which should already be on its way towards completion.

“It’s of vital importance that the DART Underground project goes ahead. The project has economic benefits which reach far beyond the Greater Dublin Area. If completed, it will link up our southern and western rail-lines with the DART, eastern and northern rail-lines. It will more than double capacity on the Maynooth and Kildare route which in turn will enable more frequent and better integrated rail services. The project will also allow people to travel from Dublin Airport directly to Cork, Limerick and Galway.

“The previous Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe claimed that he was unconvinced by the business case for the project. This was a completely disingenuous claim, especially when you consider the strong endorsement put forward by the National Transport Authority. Analysts have been warning of the massive challenges facing the transport network in the Greater Dublin Area. The M50 has already reached peak capacity and commuters are all too aware of the difficulties facing our transport network.

“It’s been suggested that the Government is now realising the mistake it made and is considering advancing the DART Underground project, which is a positive development. However it’s disappointing that Minister Donohoe’s previous dithering will now result in much higher costs for the project, alongside extended hardship for commuters,” concluded Deputy Troy.