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Minister Varadkar confirms deferral of major road and rail projects

  • Luas BXD to commence in 2015 - Metro North & Dart Underground deferred
  • Concentration on maintaining existing roads, railways and replacement of rolling stock & buses
  • Road projects generally suspended but very limited number will proceed
  • Ongoing tourism investment & sports capital programmes  

Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has today (Thursday) confirmed that investment in transport infrastructure will be scaled back significantly over the next five years in order to allow the Government to meet its commitments in health and education, restore our economic sovereignty, and keep taxes down.  

The Minister confirmed that the main construction work will start on Luas BXD in 2015, while there will be ongoing investment in smarter travel projects, and two rounds of sports capital funding. There will also be investment in tourism capital including support for a diaspora centre or museum as an iconic tourist attraction.  

“The Government is making these cutbacks in order to honour our commitments to the people and to the troika to bring the budget deficit to 3% of the GDP by 2015 so that Ireland’s economic sovereignty can be restored.  It will also assist us to honour our commitments to keep income taxes down and maintain basic social welfare rates.  

“Overall spending on transport capital will fall by almost 50% from €1.5 billion in 2011 to €0.8 billion in 2016. More than 85% of transport capital will be required to restore and maintain existing roads and railways, and to purchase replacement buses and trains. The priority is therefore to make the best use, and to get maximum value, from existing infrastructure. That is why we are focusing on projects like Luas BXD, smarter travel initiatives, fleet renewal, and safety and maintenance.  

“Given that we already have a large number of ‘shovel-ready’ projects which have been suspended until after 2016, there is little point in spending more money on planning new projects.”  


“Resources will be focused on areas which have previously not benefited to the same extent. One bypass at Ballaghadereen will proceed to construction next year, but no other bypasses will be affordable during the programme. The vast majority of road funding will be focused on maintaining and restoring the existing road network.   “In terms of road projects funded through a Public Private Partnership, we aim to finalise funding arrangements for the N11 Rathnew/Newlands Cross bundle in the coming year. Other roads PPPs will be pursued where feasible during the course of the plan. Given the significant land acquisition costs involved with the proposed M20, the NRA will be asked to withdraw the project from An Bord Pleanála at this stage and it can be re-activated in the future.  

Public Transport

“There will be a rebalancing of investment towards public transport, including renewal of the bus and rail fleets. While there will be no funding for new heavy rail projects, funding will be provided for four new railway stations on existing lines, including two in the west of Ireland. Work will commence on LUAS BXD in 2015, with completion scheduled for 2018.  This will link up the existing Luas lines and will provide further connectivity to the suburban rail network, giving Dublin an integrated commuter rail network for the first time.  This should have been done years ago, and I’m glad that this new Government can now finish the job.  


“Priority in tourism will be given to relatively low-cost projects under the Tourism Capital Investment Programme, especially with a focus on outdoor activities. We will focus resources on refreshing existing attractions, along with the development of key new attractions such as a diaspora centre or museum, should a suitable project or partner become available.”  


Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring said: ‘We recognise the importance of sport to the development of society. Funding has therefore been set aside for two Sports Capital Programmes and the completion of the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme, as well as the development of the National Sports Campus in Blanchardstown (Abbotstown) on an incremental basis’.  

Smarter Travel

Minister of State for Transport Alan Kelly said: ‘We are for the first time investing more in new public transport projects than new road projects. This, along with our continued investment in sustainable transport projects, shows we are intent on giving people transport options outside of the car. For sustainable transport, we are investing €65 million to incentivise cycling, walking and other forms of public transport. Also capital projects in this area tend to be labour intensive and good for the economy’.  

Metro North

“It is regrettable that we cannot proceed with Metro North at this stage. But with funding constrained, and private finance still reluctant to commit funds for very large infrastructure projects, there is no option but to postpone the project.”  

Rationale for choosing LUAS BXD


 LUAS BXD will create, in an affordable manner, an integrated network for the first time by connecting the existing lines. This project is affordable over a number of years, does not rely on a PPP, and will link up with areas of north Dublin like Grangegorman, Phibsborough and Cabra. There is a strong business case, and the link will exploit the value of investments made to date in Luas.   The project will create employment for 800 people per annum, including direct and indirect jobs, during the peak four years of construction. It will create approximately 60 new sustainable jobs to support the on-going operation and maintenance of the extended Luas network.  

Metro North & Dart Underground


With funding constrained, and private finance still reluctant to commit funds for large infrastructure projects, Metro North is not affordable and the only option is to postpone the project. However, it will be reviewed again in 2015 in advance of the new capital programme.   Dart Underground had already been postponed by the previous government, and will now be reconsidered in 2015. However, elements of the project may proceed if funds allow.  

Capital spending 2012-2016


Public Transport2392892852752761,363
Smarter Travel171511111165
Sports      322125  1816113
Tourism      2220       17       10       1281
Other Programmes312713111193