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Sunday 15 September 2019

CIE halts access to land in turf war over Luas extension

Michael Brennan Political Correspondent

CIE prevented another government agency from getting access to its land as part of a "turf war" over a new Luas line, it has emerged.

The Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) had to ask former Transport Minister Martin Cullen to intercede on its behalf, at the Broadstone depot in Dublin, which is at the heart of competing plans for new rail services.

It is planning to extend the Luas line at St Stephen's Green to Liffey Junction, using the disused Broadstone railway route, but CIE wants to use it to connect with the re-opened Dublin-Navan railway line, as well as providing extra services on the Maynooth line.

According to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Mr Cullen had to write to CIE last April to plead for the RPA to be let in.

Mandate

"To enable the RPA discharge its mandate, it is necessary for it to access lands in the ownership of CIE for the purpose of survey and inspection. I would be grateful if you would personally ensure that the RPA is immediately given the necessary access to the relevant CIE lands, particularly at Broadstone."

CIE confirmed that the RPA had not been given access to its lands, pending clarification from the Department of Transport on the position of its own plans.

But a spokesman said the RPA had subsequently been allowed into the site several months ago.

Fine Gael senator Paschal Donohoe, who obtained the documents, claimed the extension of the Luas line to areas on the Northside, such as Phibsborough and Cabra, had been stalled by the row.

He raised concerns that Transport Minister Noel Dempsey was more committed to allowing the route to be used for the Dublin-Navan rail corridor, rather than for "Dublin's transport needs".

However, a spokeswoman for Mr Dempsey said that the claims were incorrect.

National interest

"There is a team of consultants who have carried out their own piece of work to recommend whether Broadstone should be used for light rail or heavy rail.

"They will be coming back to the minister in a matter of days."

She also said that in the Transport 21 plan, the route was designed for a Luas line, adding that the minister would make his decision based on the national, rather than the local, interest.

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