Monday 26 September 2016

€3bn DART underground project scrapped in favour of scaled down version

Daniel McConnell Group Political Correspondent

Published 22/09/2015 | 15:01

The planned DART underground project, which has cost €40m so far, is being scrapped in favour of a scaled down version, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has confirmed.

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Mr Donohoe brought a recommendation to Government today which was approved to cease the €3bn current project as it is no longer justified.

But Mr Donohoe did say that expansion of the DART lines to Balbriggan in north Dublin and Hazlehatch in Kildare will proceed and are due to be completed by 2022.

The DART underground tunnel originally planned to link Heuston Station to Pearse Street and Docklands Stations in the city centre with a station at St Stephen’s Green.

But, at a press event in Dublin today, Mr Donohoe said a business case review of the plan determined that projected number of passengers at the time of its design have not materialised and now a reduced design will be commissioned.

As a result, almost €120m of compulsory land purchases which were due to take place to facilitate the tunnel will now not go ahead, pending the redesign of the tunnel plan.

Mr Donohoe said: “At Cabinet this morning, the Government made a decision in relation to the future of the DART expansion.

We reaffirmed our commitment to the long term role and use of this project. When this project happens, it will be the largest project in the history of the State, with a current cost of €4bn, €3bn is in relation to the tunnel and other expansion matters total €1bn,” he said.

“This is a project however that was conceived over a decade ago when our country was very different in terms of the growth that was expected,” he added.

“This Government in its term of office took a decision to defer certain elements of the plan. Alongside that we asked the National Transport Authority to review the business case of the plan.”

“I have reviewed the business case for the plan in relation to DART underground and this formed the basis of the recommendation I made to Cabinet today,” he said.

“The tunnel as it is currently designed at the moment does need to be redesigned to meet future needs. Other elements of the DART’s expansion package, most notably the expansion  to the DART to Balbriggan will be contained in the forthcoming Capital plan,” he said.

Independent.ie has seen a National Transport Authority (NTA) document which includes three alternative reduced options for the DART tunnel.

The first option would end the tunnel at Heuston station rather than in Inchicore as the original plan has intended.

The second option, would see the tunnel run from Heuston  Station to Pearse Street but not to the Docklands station, with two stations at Christchurch and St Stephen’s Green in between.

The third option would see the tunnel run between Pearse and Heuston but with only one stop at St Stephen’s Green.

Mr Donohoe said a new plan could take up to two years to complete.

Mr Donohoe said he has closed the loophole in drink driving laws which emerged after the High Court decided yesterday that breath alcohol test statements had to be given in Irish and English.

Mr Donohoe this morning rushed through emergency legislation to close a loophole in the law that could have seen hundreds of motorists on drink-driving charges have their prosecutions thrown out.

On the advice of the Attorney General’s Office, Mr Donohoe has signed into law a replacement ‘Statutory Instrument’ which now provides that breath alcohol test statements may be produced in either the English or the Irish language.

 “This was always the objective of the legislation,” Mr Donohoe said. “In the interests of road safety, I have moved immediately to provide the new legislation deemed necessary regarding the form of the statements to be provided under section 13 of the Road Traffic Act 2010.”

High Court Judge Mr Justice Seamus Noonan yesterday said there was "no ambiguity" in a law which says that gardaí - when performing an Evidenzer alcohol breath test - must supply statements in Irish and in English.

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