Statement to Select Committee on Supplementary Estimate 2015

1st December, 2015

I am delighted to appear before the Select Committee to recommend this Supplementary Estimate of €100m in additional capital funding for my Department. This will bring my overall capital envelope this year to over €1.07bn.


This additional funding will further support our public transport system, allow for much needed maintenance of our road network and facilitate the speedier roll-out of a number of key projects this year.




The €100m breaks down as follows:


€60 million is being allocated to the public transport investment programme

Of this:

  • €29m is being allocated for rail fleet maintenance,
  • €9m for safety works, maintenance and renewal of the heavy rail network nationwide, through the Infrastructure Manager Multi Annual Contract,
  • €20m for the provision of PSO buses for the Dublin Bus fleet to enhance and modernise the fleet, to help ease congestion and to improve environmental performance. and
  • close to €2m for cycle measures in the Greater Dublin Area, including projects to enhance cycle safety.


€34 million is being allocated to the roads programme. This will target critical remedial works, maintenance and strengthening of the road network at national, regional and local level, where funding has been severely constrained since the crisis began.


This spend has a wide geographic spread and will have positive economic impact. Of this, €10 million will be allocated to pavement works on our national road network, including specific upgrades which are vital for the economy.  €24 million will go towards regional and local roads, which will allow 350km of sub-standard road pavement to be brought up to a high standard across 27 Local Authority areas.

  • €3 million will be allocated to complete the Mullingar – Athlone Greenway.
  • €1m will be allocated to tourism related projects, including a signage programme for the Ireland’s Ancient East proposition and the development of other tourism capital development priorities.
  • €800,000 will be allocated to the National Indoor Arena, in addition to funding already committed, to accelerate the delivery of this world class facility for our athletes at the National Sports Campus.
  • €260,000 will go towards enhancing road safety, including investment in drug testing devices and progressing work on the Third Payment Option for Fixed Charge Notices.





As this Committee is only too aware, the level of funding for roads and public transport has fallen well below comparable international standards. From a peak of €3 billion (or 1.6% of GDP) in 2008 to a historic low of €850 million (0.5% of GDP) in 2014, it is evident to all who travel across the country that investment in road maintenance and strengthening is an urgent priority.


This additional investment will bring the overall capital investment programme in roads to €610m this year.  We need to sustain this level of investment in order to make our road network safer and better able to support economic development. Funds are also being provided for road safety measures, including the roll-out of drug testing devices which should result in fewer deaths on our roads.


As we build on the progress we have been making in recent years, more people are returning to work which is great news. However, it is also resulting in a rise in congestion levels in certain areas. This threatens to slow economic activity and have a negative impact on people’s living standards.  Strong investment levels in public transport is key to supporting economic growth.


Today’s funding will support the renewal and expansion of our bus fleet, which will improve reliability; enhance rail journey times, which will improve commuter experience; and expand the bike share scheme, all of which will combat congestion and help facilitate further growth. It will bring total capital investment in public transport this year to almost €340m.




From 2016 onwards, we have agreed a Capital Plan which provides close to €10bn in funding over 7 years for land transport investment, moving us from an annual investment figure of around €1bn this year to €1.93bn in 2022. 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 capital 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.




The development of the Greenways concept has captured the imagination of both domestic cyclists and overseas visitors.  I am delighted that the additional €3m investment in the Mullingar to Athlone Greenway will complete this phase of a much larger more ambitious Dublin to Galway Greenway to a high standard.


Continued investment and renewal of tourism product offering is key to maintaining our competitive edge on the international stage.  The Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East initiatives are key platforms to build and enhance the visitor experience and part of the €1m investment will be made in signage to enhance both of these experiences.


Investment will also be made in development of other tourism capital development priorities such as the ‘Ulysses Centre’ – University College Dublin’s development of an international literary centre in Newman House on St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin, the Dubline Discovery Trail in Dublin and the Connemara Cultural Centre in Rosmuc. It will also fund feasibility studies on the development of facilities at number of discovery points on the Wild Atlantic Way.




Finally, some additional funding for the National Indoor Arena will enable us to accelerate the completion of this project. A project which many describe as the missing piece in our national sporting infrastructure.

Once complete, the Arena will comprise of a National Indoor Athletics Training Centre, a National Indoor Training Centre capable of accommodating numerous sports, and a National Gymnastics Training Centre. Work on the project commenced in February 2015, with completion scheduled for November 2016.




The supplementary also includes a technical amendment which allows the Department to receive approx. €14m in development levies from  the Rail Procurement Agency and channel it back out through the National Transport Authority for Luas network related costs.  The effect of this is to increase the expenditure under the B8 Public Transport subhead without increasing the Exchequer contribution.


I recommend this Supplementary to the Committee for their consideration and approval.


I am more than happy to reply to any queries Members may have on the components of the Supplementary Estimate.