Full steam ahead on Navan line despite cuts
THE NAVAN rail line will be built and open for business in 2016, despite a massive cutback in government spending, Transport Minister Noel Dempsey repeated yesterday.
The commuter line was not listed as a key priority in the Government's revised capital spending plan announced last week.
But Mr Dempsey again insisted the €400m needed to build the line would be made available as soon as the project secured planning permission.
And in an attempt to turn the tables on his opposition critics, he said only a change of government -- or minister -- would scupper the commuter line.
"It is going to happen. The money will come from the capital programme up to 2016," he said at the unveiling of Dunboyne Station yesterday.
"There's no question or doubt at all about that. I've said that project will be delivered and it will be delivered. . . This project is now at Railway Order (planning permission) stage. As soon as that's completed the money will be available," he added.
The first phase of the Navan rail line -- from Dunboyne to the Docklands -- will open in September.
The line runs from the M3 Parkway station at Pace in Co Meath to Dunboyne, a distance of 2.5km, before linking with the Maynooth service to Connolly Station at Clonsilla, 5km away.
Built at a cost of €105m, the first trains began testing yesterday. The second phase will run from Dunboyne to Navan, a distance of 34km, and planning permission will be sought next May with a decision likely in 2012.
Mr Dempsey said the Navan line was among a range of projects across all Government departments not identified by name in the revised capital spending programme.
Just one road was identified, he said -- the Atlantic Road Corridor -- although more would be built in the coming years.
Health facilities and schools were not identified by name, although they would go ahead.
He welcomed the opening of the Dunboyne rail service next month, and said he looked forward to the Navan extension.
"This is the first phase of it (to Dunboyne) and the second phase is to be delivered. I'm looking forward to that over the next four to five years," he said.
"This is the phase a lot of people said wouldn't happen. It will be opened officially at the end of September. We've the same problem with phase two (to Navan). People say it's not going to happen; it is going to happen."
Iarnrod Eireann said that driver training and testing would continue on the Dunboyne line for the rest of the month, before passengers can use the service.
Trains will run every half hour, with a journey time of 27 minutes at peak. On weekdays it will run to Docklands Station, where it will link with the Luas Red Line.
The largest park-and-ride facility in the country will be located at M3 Parkway station, off the motorway at Pace, where 1,200 spaces will be provided.
Another 300 spaces are available at Dunboyne. Parking costs are €2 for a day or €8 for a week. A monthly rate of €30 will also be available.
CIE chairman Dr John Lynch said the line would improve journey times to Dublin for commuters. Up to 1,500 passengers a day are expected to use the service.
"We are looking forward to opening this new commuter route next month, which will make daily commuting so much faster and easier for thousands of commuters from Co Meath and beyond," he said.
"With the M3 Parkway station, customers from a wide catchment area will be able to eliminate congestion completely from their daily journey, by switching to rail before encountering the notorious bottlenecks from Clonee to the city."