Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare North James Lawless has taken issue with a number of aspects of the transport plan for the Greater Dublin Area as signed off by acting Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe earlier this week. Deputy Lawless says the plan is lacking in detail, and should be subject to further Dáil scrutiny.
Deputy Lawless commented, “The 2016 – 2035 Greater Dublin Area Transport Plan is of monumental importance for the future development of our state. It is a massive investment program. It sets out the framework for the development of our transport infrastructure for the next two decades. It’s disappointing that the plan has not received more Dáil scrutiny.
“I’ve serious concerns surrounding the lack of detail around the plans for the DART Underground, otherwise known as the Interconnector. DART Underground was previously the lynchpin of all rail planning in Dublin. The current transport plan essentially omits DART Underground entirely. This is despite extensive research having been carried out which shows the project is necessary and justified.
“The lack of detail surrounding the future of DART Underground raises serious questions as to the future development of rail transport in Dublin, and makes it much more difficult to deliver cross city rail services. The plan includes a re-announcement of the Phoenix Park Tunnel, but this is no substitute for DART Underground. The commitment to extend the DART is welcome, but the long heralded ‘Kildare’ line upgrade actually terminates at Hazelhatch in Dublin. This is of little value to Kildare commuters who travel to and from Sallins, Naas and Newbridge in particular.
“The transport plan completely abandons the previous commitment to bring light rail and commuter services to Navan and other areas in Meath. The project had been costed and formed an integral part of the previous Transport 21 plan. I believe there should at least be an aspiration to connect the commuter counties by rail to Dublin city. Coupled with this, the presence of the DART Underground would in turn allow feasible cross – county journeys to take place.
“This plan also fails to take account of the growing industrial relations pressures across the public transport network. The National Transport Authority needs to work to ensure there is buy in amongst workers in the transport sector to ensure commitments in relation to increased services can be delivered. There is little point announcing service extensions if the necessary groundwork is not in place to deliver these commitments.
“Whilst there is much to welcome in this strategy, the vagueness on DART Underground and a ‘Circle Line’ alongside the clear lack of aspiration to deliver DART type services to commuter counties represents a major flaw in the overall strategy, said Deputy Lawless.