Broad Political Agreement on retention of key aspects of the National Development Plan

February 12, 2009


On February 6th,  Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny called on the Government to scrap the National Development Plan (NDP), claiming it is filled with “unachievable” political targets.

Speaking the following Saturday 7th February, on RTE, the Taoiseach Brian Cowan, stated that the NDP will not go ahead in all its facets, as it was based on a forecast of 4% economic growth annually. Mr Cowen said that targetted expenditure would see significant investment in higher education and research & development.

He said it would also target efforts to bring business ideas to fruition in order to develop what he called a “smart economy”, and so generate jobs.

Mr Cowen also said that the global economic crisis had shown that membership of the European Union was critical to Ireland’s fortunes and survival.  Mr Cowen also said that people were concerned at how quickly the change in Ireland’s economic fortunes had occurred. He said that in some cases things would get worse before they got better, but stated that Ireland could come through this if the ‘right decisions’ are made now.

In immediate response, on the same day, the Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny stated that he welcomed the Taoiseach’s admission that there may have to be alternations to the National Development Plan.  Enda Kenny said that the focus of the plan must turn to labour intensive infrastruture projects.

It is unclear exactly what is meant by “labour intensive projects,” but it seems clear that the roads programme is intended to continue without pause or restraint. Just why Ireland needs an enormous roads network radiating out from Dublin instead of connecting existing cities (and their adjacent ports) by an interconnected roads and rail network remains unclear.




Public Transport Services to be Axed

January 13, 2009


Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey has said Public Transport Services are to be cut back in 2009.

 Hundreds of jobs at Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann are now at risk as management and unions meet in the coming days to discuss the financial situations at both companies.

Dublin Bus has confirmed it will outline the findings of a review it has carried out into financial problems facing the company as a result of the economic downturn and it plans to address these problems to staff and trade unions on Friday the 16th January.

Plans by the government to make cuts on public transport in Ireland have been in the works for some time, with a consultants report recommending massive changes to transport provision.

Routes known to be  “under performing” are to be eliminated. It is expected that Dublin Bus will propose the withdrawal of 10% of the Dublin Bus fleet which would amount to around 120 buses and could result in the loss of up to 200 jobs.

Speaking to RTÉ News, the Minister said that some lessening of public transport services was inevitable given the difficult year companies face. In December the Minister informed Dáil Eireann that there needed to be ‘rationalisation’ within Dublin Bus. Dempsey stated that Dublin Bus was considering a number of options including the reduction in frequency or the complete withdrawal of buses from some routes.

In 2008, the parent company CIE reported a €39.5m operating deficit due a drop in demand for its services and increased fuel costs. The Department of Transport have confirmed that a cost efficiency review of CIE is still under way and the findings are due to be sent to the Minster in the coming weeks.

The harshness with which CIE’s debts are being regarded by the Government is in stark contrast to the latitude being granted the National Roads Authority’s cost overruns, up to €16 Billion in 2008 according to one source.

The Comptroller and Auditor General has previously expressed concern about the huge increases in spending on roads projects.  In 2002 the NRA was summoned before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), to explain a massive €6.6 billion overrun. By 2004, the overrun had gone up to €10 billion

In 2005, PAC chairman Michael Noonan said the interim report would support Prime Time’s claims (‘The Money Pit’ Monday, 9 May 2005), that 30 road projects originally cost at €6 billion would end up costing the taxpayer €18 billion.

The only alternative to public transport is the Government’s tolled motorway network. There has been no viable explanation as to why Ireland, alone of any country in Western Europe, needs such an expensive road system, to the increasing disadvantage of public transport.



Meath Post Evidence: Navan to Dublin Railway Project will Not Go Ahead

July 22, 2008

”The Navan to Dublin railway project looks to be dead in the water after it was revealed that one of two key bridges along the M3 protecting the route is not being built.

Site visits by the Meath Post to both locations at Pace (Dunboyne) and Cannistown (Navan) has revealed that whilst the bridge protecting the railway at Dunboyne is being constructed, the bridge south of Navan is not, and the M3 is now being built directly across the railway alignment.

News of this missing bridge and its impact on the Navan Dublin railway project is likely to be met with anger by Meath’s commuters.

However Iarnród Éireann claim that the NRA have factored in the problem and will build embankments to allow the railway to go ahead.

During the planning process for the M3 in 2003, concerns were raised by Iarnród Éireann that reopening of the Navan Dublin railway would be made too costly if M3 planners were allowed cut the former railway line in two by running the M3 through it without first building a bridge.

Local railway campaigners, using information from Iarnród Éireann, succeeded in obtaining the insertion of two railway bridges in the M3 plans to protect efforts to reopen the railway.

Under order of An Bord Pleanála, Meath County Council drew up plans for one bridge at Dunboyne to protect the former railway line, and another at Cannistown just south of Navan.

As recently as 2006, Meath County Council planning office insisted that both bridge plans remained on file and that the Navan Dublin railway line was being protected.

An Bord Pleanála’s ruling stated that a bridge to allow the railway pass beneath the M3 similar to the Dunboyne bridge should be constructed at Cannistown. The instruction was that unless Iarnród Éireann indicated that they intended following a new rail route for at this section then the bridge as designed should be inserted.

To run the line over the motorway would take an enormous effort and massive cost, with a 26 foot embankment required to run for kilometres on either side of the M3 to allow the railway pass above the motorway.

As late as last month, Iarnród Éireann indicated that this section of the former line was being retained, but the evidence in this photograph shows this has not happened.

Despite this, a spokeswoman told the Meath Post that the NRA are aware of their responsibilities.

“The (the NRA) are going to make provision and embankments will be built that will allow the railway to go ahead”. ”


Meath Post, 12th. July 2008 via SaveTara:

New Parking Charges at Irish Rail Stations could herald privatisation of Rail Network

July 18, 2008

Commuters will be charged €2 a day or a discounted rate of €8 a week. Clamping will be introduced to enforce the new fees. There are 4,500 parking spaces at stations where car parking is provided.

CIÉ says it will gain around €1m from new pay and display parking charges at 37 stations on the greater Dublin rail network.

A spokesman for Irish Rail stated that the revenue it collects from commuters will be reinvested in parking spaces.

Most of the money collected from these will go to CIÉ with servivce provider Nationwide Controlled Parking Systems receiving a percentage for managing the car parks.

The stations affected are on lines from Athlone and Longford including the stations on the Portlaoise and Coolmine Arrow routes, the Dundalk line, the Dart routes, the Arklow and Gorey lines.

Contracting out or competitive tendering. Government departments or enterprises have always used private contractors but the scale of this practice has been radically increased.

A big element of privatisation is the radical extension of the “user pays” principle. State utilities have always charged for the provision of water, power, transport and so on, but both the scale and scope of such charges are being dramatically enlarged. Australians, for example, are now increasingly being charged for their education (in one way or another) and also for the disposal of their sewage; many local councils are nerving themselves to impose charges for withdrawing library books.


Rath Lugh Monument under increased threat as protesters moved on

April 17, 2008

The Protest Camp based at Rath Lugh has now been evicted. At one o’ clock, four Protectors who were on site were told by Gardai that they had to gather up their belongings and leave. This was not done in an aggressive manner and was complied with by the protesters.

Once the protesters had left Rath Lugh woods no protester was allowed back in. According to the Direct Action Group, there were 20 Gardai, 3 Garda Cars present, plus 2 Vans as well as a dozen Construction Workers at the entrance to the woods. A steel fence has now been erected separating Rath Lugh National Monument from the public road. A mini digger is busy creating a path and a low loader is in situ. Read the rest of this entry »

Building Work has begun upon underground DART “interconnector” line

March 5, 2008


On Tuesday, 26 February 2008, Irish Rail announced that construction work has already begun on a new underground DART tunnel that Iarnród Éireann says will quadruple the number of passengers on its Dublin network. Read the rest of this entry »

NYC Subway System had 1.5 Billion Passengers in 2007

February 10, 2008

NYC Transit officials stated that New York City subway usership hit its highest level in more than half a century. NYC Transit figures released recently show a total of more than 1.5 billion passengers thronged the trains last year. More than 5 million passengers use the New York subway system on an average weekday. Read the rest of this entry »