Donohoe recommends Supplementary Estimate of €162m for Dept of Transport, Tourism & Sport  

9th December, 2014

€110m for public transport investment to be used to support bus and rail renewal programmes & Luas Cross City


Biggest Supplementary Estimate for public transport since pre ‘08 will see 90 new buses for Dublin Bus, 57 new coaches for Bus Éireann and enhanced safety and reliability for Irish Rail users



Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, will today (Tuesday) appear before the Select Committee to recommend a Supplementary Estimate of €162 million for the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. This will bring the overall capital envelope this year for the Department to over €1.14 billion (full speech below).


The funding which is made up of stimulus funding agreed by the Government last May (€40m), funding for Severe Weather Repair agreed by Government in February 2014 (€21m)  and a new allocation of €101 million which will be used to ensure the public transport sector is better placed to address the transport demands of our economic recovery.


Funding is being prioritised for the renewal of aging bus fleets, which will mean 90 modern new buses for Dublin Bus commuters and 57 new coaches for Bus Éireann, as well as provision to allow for enhanced service reliability and safety for passengers for those who use Irish Rail services. This is the largest Supplementary Estimate to be awarded to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport for public transport since before the economic crisis of 2008.


The €101m in new funding will be spent as follows:

  • Bus fleet renewal – €50m
  • Irish Rail – heavy rail safety and development programme – €44.15m
  • Luas Cross City – €5m
  • Sports NGBs equipment – €1m
  • Tourism development – €850k


Stimulus funding of €40m as follows:

  • €33m for the Roads Programme
  • €5m for public transport
  • €1.6m for Greenways
  • €0.5m for Lough Derg Tourism project
  • €0.08 for Special Olympics HQ at Campus


Severe Weather funding of €21m as follows:

  • €14.1m for the roads programme
  • €6.8m for public transport


Minister Donohoe said: ‘As our economy continues to improve, it is important that our road and rail networks are maintained to an acceptable level so that the travelling public is encouraged to leave the car at home and to avail of more sustainable modes of transport. This has economic, environmental and social consequences for us all. As our economy develops public infrastructure simply must keep apace’.


“We must ensure that as people return to work we have a system in place that supports the progress we are making. This Supplementary Estimate recognises the important role public transport has to play in our development by allowing for a significant increase in Government investment in transport infrastructure, the first of its kind since 2008.


“The overall increase in the Public transport investment programme of €110 million will ensure that critical projects like the LUAS Cross City are sufficiently funded, that the Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann bus fleets are refreshed and that Irish Rail is supported in investments it needs to make on the rail network. This level of investment is critical to ensuring that public transport remains an attractive option and that congestion is minimised so that economic output can be maximised.


“Investment in our national, regional and local roads is also essential for the efficient movement of goods and people as our economy develops. Today’s Supplementary Estimate provides for €33 million towards the roads programme as part of the Government stimulus package announced last May. Provision of €21 million is also being made for areas affected by severe weather which hit Ireland earlier this year.  This includes €14.1 million to repair roads at national, regional and local level and a further €6.8 million for damage to public transport infrastructure, particularly the rail network


“Allocations are also being made to support the tourism and sports sections of my portfolio. An extra €1 million is being allocated to equipment for sporting bodies this year and an additional €850,000 go to Failte Ireland to promote the Wild Atlantic Way and Dublin.”




Statement for Select Committee hearing on Supplementary Estimate 2014




I am delighted to appear before the Select Committee to recommend this Supplementary Estimate of €162m in additional capital funding for my Department. This will bring my overall capital envelope and investment in the land transport programme this year to over €1.14bn, which is something I hope will be sustained into the future.


This additional funding will address 3 key priorities:


  • Advance the Stimulus projects announced by Government in May of this year;
  • Repair the damage done to our roads and public transport infrastructure by the severe weather at the end of last year and earlier this year; and,
  •  Support and improve our public transport sector, protect previous investments and ensure the sector is better placed to address the transport demands associated with an economy in recovery.


The overall funding requirement is €162m. The bulk of this – at €110m- will go towards the public transport investment programme. The balance will go towards the roads programme – at €47m – and various smaller amounts towards the Smarter Travel, Sports and Tourism programmes.   I am also including a technical virement of savings to facilitate two important initiatives in the sports and tourism areas.



On the first priority, members will be aware that Government made Stimulus funding available through the sale of State assets for various projects and initiatives, many of which fall within my Department’s remit. The last Stimulus package, announced in May, included provision for a number of initiatives within my Department’s remit.


Today’s Supplementary Estimate covers the following elements of that May Stimulus package:


  • €33m towards the roads programme;
  • €5m towards a public transport initiative;
  • €1.6m towards the Greenways programme
  • €500,000 towards the development of Lough Derg as a tourism destination; and
  • €80,000 towards the development of a headquarters for the Special Olympics within the National Sports Campus complex.


The balance of the funding announced in May will be included in the Revised Estimate for 2015 and beyond as these projects are rolled out and expenditure is incurred.


These projects are in addition to other Stimulus projects announced last year which included the Wild Atlantic Way, the National Indoor Arena and a new round of Sports Capital funding – all of which are progressing well.


With this injection of capital funding, we are already seeing much needed employment and economic activity at a local level with important leverage effects for the wider national economy.




I have stated before that investment in our national, regional and local roads is one of my top priorities. The efficient movement of goods and people around our country is vital to our economic future, as well as ensuring the connectivity of outlying communities to our major urban centres.


This funding will mean projects like the realignment of the N77 at Ballynaslee in Kilkenny, the widening of Hughes Bridge on the N4 in Sligo and pavement strengthening in Macroom will come on line next year and communities up and down the country will feel the benefit.




On the second priority, members will also recall that Government agreed a funding package in February last aimed at addressing some of the priority areas affected by severe weather which hit Ireland earlier this year.  This Supplementary Estimate includes spend of €21m for this purpose, including €14.1m to repair roads at national, regional and local level; and a further €6.8m for damage to public transport infrastructure, particularly the rail network.  Some further funding has been ring-fenced within my Vote next year as repairs are done and expenditure incurred.





The third element of this Supplementary Estimate is new and represents a significant milestone in the Government’s capital investment programme in transport. This has been made possible given the improved economic and fiscal outlook.


Since taking up this portfolio, I have become acutely aware of the very challenging financial situation faced by CIÉ, in particular Irish Rail, and the dependence of the Group  on continued bank funding.


I remain strongly supportive of the efforts to secure the company’s financial sustainability in order to ensure that rail services can be provided efficiently and cost effectively, with investment needs met over the long term.


The Government has provided substantial Exchequer investment in the rail network in recent years despite the significant financial challenges and is fully engaged with Irish Rail and the National Transport Authority (NTA) in examining the future funding requirements for the company to ensure a sustainable future.  I recognise that the Strategic Framework for Investment in Land Transport has called for a review of rail and I will be consulting with the NTA on how best to progress this proposal.



Earlier this year, an independent group of experts brought together by my Department to examine transport investment in Ireland, produced an important report and a series of recommendations which provide a Strategic Framework for Land Transport Investment in Ireland.


A key finding in this report is that over the last number of years the level investment in land transport as a percentage of GDP is below the level necessary to support and improve, as necessary, the land transport system.


This has meant that care and maintenance requirements of our transport infrastructure are not being met with very obvious implications for our roads and public transport asset base. Members of this Committee will be very aware of this.


With an improving economic outlook and a healthier fiscal position, we are now in a better place to begin to re-invest in our transport infrastructure in a way that was simply not possible since this Government took office given the fiscal constraints in operation.


With this Supplementary Estimate, Government investment levels in transport infrastructure will see a significant increase this year for the first time since 2008. As a result of this Supplementary Estimate, overall capital investment in the land transport programme will exceed the €1bn mark and will begin a trend which I hope will be sustained over the course of the next capital framework which is to be announced by Government shortly.


This injection of an additional €110m in our public transport programme will ensure that critical projects are funded sufficiently, including LUAS Cross City and that the PSO bus fleet is refreshed and expanded to meet growing demands of an economy in recovery.


This injection will provide €50m for bus renewal and a further €5 m for LUAS Cross City so that public transport can meet growing demands of an economy in recovery. In addition €45m of the €110m earmarked for public transport will be targeted at Irish Rail’s renewal investment, that is €27m for railcar renewal and €18m for infrastructure maintenance – all of which will contribute to securing a viable path for the company.


The net result of this increase in investment will mean 90 modern new buses for Dublin Bus commuters, 57 new coaches for Bus Eireann and enhanced service reliability and safety for passengers who use Irish Rail services.


This is extremely important not just for them, but for the wider economy as an expanding public transport network is essential if we are to effectively harness the nascent growth now evident in our economy.


I should point out that this extra investment in public transport coincides with the maintenance of current PSO funding for transport companies at the same level in 2015 as it was in 2014- the first time there has been no reduction in this funding for several years.




Apart from the much needed funding for transport, this supplementary estimate also includes additional allocations for the sports and tourism programmes.


I have already mentioned some of this in context of Stimulus funding.  In addition, I will allocate an extra €1m for equipment for sporting bodies this year.  For tourism, an additional €850,000 for Failte Ireland will facilitate strategic IT investments primarily to promote the Wild Atlantic Way and Dublin.


I have also included some technical virements in the Supplementary Estimate which will allow me to use savings from the RSA which is moving to a self-financing position and pay related efficiencies in Failte Ireland’s grant-in-aid subhead, to meet the costs of two important initiatives:


  • Additional funding for the Irish Sports Council; and
  • a major tourism marketing blitz in key overseas markets over the Winter.


I am pleased to recommend this Supplementary to the Committee and would be more than happy to answer your questions.