Speech on Government’s Capital Plan 2016-2022

29th September, 2015

Good morning.


I will speak at length at a later date on the very important tourism and sport elements of this Plan, but I want this morning to concentrate on transport.


Investing in transport is key to our continued economic growth and to delivering sustainable jobs now and in the future.


This is a €10 billion programme over 7 years, which brings us from an annual investment figure of €1.05bn in 2014 to €1.93bn in 2022 for Land Transport. This is a clear signal that we are serious about the addressing the needs of an economy in full recovery and seeking to invest over the period in meeting future demands.


At the same time, we are taking a prudent approach to the spending of public money, always knowing that we cannot fund all the projects we would like to, as quickly as we would like.


The plan includes;


–          A return to the necessary levels of investment to maintain our existing road and rail network to protect those assets now and into the future

–          A major transport project for north Dublin to tackle congestion in an area of the country due to experience rapid population growth

–          A schedule of investment to expand and improve the road network around Ireland


It is predicated on three priorities of maintaining and upgrading our existing transport network, targeting urban congestion and improving connectivity around the country, particularly to key seaports and airports.




Following a period of reduced public transport usage during the downturn, 2014 saw the start of a reversal of these trends. In 2014, public transport usage increased across all modes – bus, Luas and commuter rail- with an increase of 8 million passenger trips. That growth is continuing this year and is an indicator or our growing economy.


Under this plan, the public transport programme will reach €3.6bn.


€2.6bn will be invested in essential ‘steady state’ maintenance and asset renewal across the national public transport network.


A further €1bn will be invested to address growing congestion resulting from economic recovery and population growth.


This targeted investment will provide for;


  • Bus fleet replacement and capacity enhancement
  • The upgrading of Quality Bus Corridors with a view to progressing to BRT status over time on a small number of key routes
  • The completion of the Luas Cross City project in Dublin.
  • The completion of the City Centre Resignalling programme for the rail network
  • The construction of a new Central Traffic Control centre for commuter and intercity rail
  • An ongoing maintenance programme to ensure the safety and efficiency of the rail network overall.


By 2020, Exchequer investment will have incrementally reached requisite steady state funding levels.


By 2022, the additional investment, particularly over the final 3 years of the plan, will mean critical transport projects addressing congestion and improving the commuter experience are completed and operational, and some new major transport projects are commenced.




I am announcing this morning that the Government intends to fund and build a new Metro North for Dublin.


As you will know, providing a high capacity public transport link along the City-Airport-Swords corridor has been an objective for some time. However the original Metro North project had to be deferred due to the economic crisis and the Government made a commitment to review the project in the context of the next Capital Plan.


Based on the outcome of the recent North Dublin Transport Study undertaken by the National Transport Authority, the Government has decided that a new Metro North scheme is the most appropriate public transport solution to address the transport needs of Dublin’s northside.


The new Metro north will run along almost the same route as the previous Metro, but will feature somewhat fewer stops and will be built more cost effectively.


It is expected that construction of the project would commence in 2021 with a view to delivery by 2026/27.


The rationale for the project remains strong and the need for a public transport solution for north Dublin will become even more pressing in the medium to long term.


Travel demand along the corridor is anticipated to grow by up to 40% by 2033.


The current and potential future levels of car dependency on the corridor are simply not sustainable, particularly in the context of environmental impact and supporting future population and employment forecasts along the corridor.


Metro will be a 16.5km light rail line connecting St Stephen’s Green to Swords, via Dublin Airport and we envisage the total cost of construction to be approximately €2.4 billion. I believe it is important that this sum is in the public domain. Metro’s last incarnation did not come with an official price tag which led to some scepticism about the project.


Almost 8.5km of the route will run in a tunnel from St. Stephens Green to Griffith Avenue in Drumcondra, after which it will run overground, except where it runs under Dublin airport.


The route will serve key destinations such as the Mater Hospital, DCU, Ballymun and Northwood, in addition to Dublin Airport and Swords. When it is completed, passengers will be able to travel from O’Connel St to the airport in 19 minutes and to Swords in 31 minutes.  A more detailed and technical overview will be available from the NTA later this afternoon.


As a northsider myself, I am keenly aware that there has been a false dawn on this before. However, with the prospect of sustainable growth, and in the context of a costed, prudent capital plan, I believe that we will see a transport solution for north Dublin that is long overdue.




I stated last week that the first phase of the DART expansion programme will begin, with the extension of the DART line to Balbriggan.  The design and planning for the further phases, which include expansion of DART services to Maynooth in the west and Hazelhatch in the southwest, will also be progressed.


The Dart Underground Project, which remains a key element of integrated transport for the Greater Dublin Area, will be redesigned to provide a lower cost technical solution, whilst retaining the required rail connectivity.


I am pleased to say that with all of the major improvements to the Dublin public transport system due to come on line in the medium term including…


  • The opening of the Phoenix Park tunnel next year
  • Improved DART frequency
  • The opening of LUAS cross city in 2017
  • The DART expansion programme, including the bringing of the DART to Balbriggan
  • The new Metro North, and,
  • The ongoing improvement and expansion of bus services


…I believe we will get this city moving, keep this city working and make Dublin’s transport system as good as it possibly can be.




This capital plan, however, is a plan for the entire country. Our roads network at national, regional and local level is the lifeblood of the economy.


I am pleased to say that the roads programme being announced today will total €6 billion.


€4.4bn of this programme will be devoted to essential maintenance and strengthening works on our network, restoring our roads to the quality levels we require.


A further €600m relates to on-going development of our PPP roads pipeline.


And €860m will be targeted at progress new priority roads projects.



By 2020, roads investment will have reached required steady-state maintenance levels. By 2022, significant progress will have been made in tackling bottlenecks and pinch points across the road network.


Some of the key priorities in the roads programme which will support economic growth, supported by this investment include;


  • The upgrading of roads into Grange Castle Business Park in West Dublin will be completed to provide access for a number of global industries.


  • Work will commence on projects which are targeted at removing critical bottlenecks or upgrading inadequate sections of road such as the M7 Naas-Newbridge road widening scheme, the Sallins By-Pass, the Dunkettle Interchange, the N22 Ballyvourney to Macroom scheme, the N4 Collooney to Castlebaldwin scheme,  the N56 Dungloe to Glenties Road, the N56 Mountcharles to Inver Road, the N59 Moycullen By-Pass and a  new Bridge (including approach roads) over the Garavogue river in Sligo. Work will also commence on the N5 Westport to Turlough road, as part of the major development of roads in Mayo which will include the Ballina to Swinford (N26/N58/N5) in respect of which further planning is required and which will continue over the coming period.


  • A number of other schemes, also targeting bottlenecks in the road network, will be progressed subject to planning.  Examples here include the Shannon Crossing Bridge at Killaloe, the Galway By-Pass, Mallow Relief Road, Adare By-Pass, Slane By-Pass, N28 Cork to Ringaskiddy road, N69 Shannon to Foynes road, Athy Southern Distributor Road, Portlaoise Southern Distributor Road, Phase 4 of Dingle Relief road and Laytown to Bettystown Link road.


The Plan also includes funding for three PPP road schemes, namely; the first of:


– N17/18 Gort to Tuam scheme, which is already underway in terms of construction
– M11 Gorey to Enniscorthy scheme and
– N25 New Ross By-Pass


In addition, there will be improvements to be made in cycling networks, including urban schemes which support modal shift from private car usage.

Investment in our public transport system will uphold the principles of the Government’s Smarter Travel policy.  Under the Capital Plan, €100 million is being committed to smarter travel and carbon reduction measures, including Greenways, to ensure that the transport sector makes a major contribution to climate change mitigation targets.



This plan is ambitious but deliverable.

Investing so that we can adequately meet the our long term transport needs is vital to our continued recovery and the delivery of sustainable growth and jobs.

We do not have unlimited resources and undoubtedly there are many worthy projects that we have not been able to fund. However, this plan is a roadmap to future success.

Thank you.