Maintaining existing roads and railways and extending the Luas are the main priorities for transport’s reduced capital budget.
The Government’s decision to prioritise health, education and restoring the economy means that €4.36 billion will be spent on transport until 2016.
The ‘Infrastructure and capital investment 2012-2016 medium-term exchequer framework’ outlines the transport projects and initiatives that are to be funded until 2016, including four major road public-private partnerships (PPPs), two on which work has already begun.
This contrasts with the boom-time National Development Plan (2006) which allocated €33 billion to transport and is €0.4 billion less than the 2011-2014 National Recovery Plan’s €4.8 billion.
Roads will receive €2.9 billion and €1.4 billion will be spent on public transport over the four-year period.
The Luas BXD line will begin construction in 2015, to be finished by 2018. It will connect the Luas lines from St Stephen’s Green through to Broadstone and link to the mainline railway at Broombridge in Cabra. It is the only one of the three ‘big-ticket’ public transport projects supported by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar to go ahead. Metro North and the Dart Underground will not be considered until the next capital programme.
While the cost of the Luas project has not been disclosed, the Minister stated that “this project is affordable over a number of years and does not rely on a PPP.” It has previously been speculated to cost €275 million.
Since 2009, the National Roads Authority has been seeking private funding for the N11 Arklow-Rathnew/N7 Newlands Cross Interchange, County Wicklow, and the N17 Gort to Tuam road, County Galway. “Intensive efforts are continuing,” the capital investment plan states.
Replacement railway stations will be built at Kishogue, Hansfield, Crusheen and Oranmore on the Western Rail Corridor. Bottlenecks on urban rail level crossings will be removed and €111 million will be provided for a railway safety and capital maintenance programme. Bus Éireann buses will be replaced and quality bus corridors upgraded (particularly along the Ballymun-Airport-Swords corridor).
A regional cities traffic management programme will be drawn up, while preparation works will begin on the New Ross-Enniscorthy PPP. The legal dispute, over the compliance of the Galway City Outer bypass with the EU Habitats Directive, is to be resolved.
€65 million will be spent on ‘smarter travel’, including more cycle lanes, pedestrian zones, real-time timetables, integrated ticketing and the extension of bike sharing to regional cities.
“Significant funding” (€1.26 billion) will be spent on the maintenance of regional roads, including the Ballaghaderreen bypass, County Roscommon, and low cost improvements to secondary roads, particularly in tourist areas.
The justification for not going ahead with the Metro North and Dart Underground PPPs (despite approximately €200 million already spent on preparatory work) was the inability to get private financers to fund the costs (€3 billion and €2.6 billion respectively). Metro North was supposed to alleviate traffic congestion around the Mater Hospital by bringing patients, staff and visitors to the new Children’s Hospital which is going ahead on that site. When challenged on this, the Minister said it is “regrettable”.
Due to the lack of money, the main priority is to ensure that the good road network that was built up over the last decade is maintained.
Transport spending (€ million)
|Regional & Local||285||250||240||240||240||1,255|
|Transport safety & accessibility||127||130||135||130||126||648|
|Overall capital spend||1,145||831||824||779||779||4,358|