I am delighted to be here today to open the Dunboyne M3 Commuter rail line.
This line is again open for business one hundred and forty eight years and four days from when it first opened and sixty-three years since scheduled passengers services were terminated. This is a historic day as it’s not alone the third rail line to be re-opened in a little over twelve months but is also the first rail line to be reopened in the Greater Dublin Area under Transport 21.
Benefits/Impacts of Dunboyne M3 Commuter
The journey time from Dunboyne to the Docklands train station in Dublin city centre is only 30 minutes This should be a great incentive for commuters to reduce car use and convert to public transport. Services will operate at half hour intervals at peak time and hourly at off peak. This level of services will build to greater frequency as demand increases.
Trains running along the 7.5 kilometre line will call at the new stations at Pace ‘M3 Parkway’ and Dunboyne. In addition, another new station at Hansfield is ready and waiting to open once an access road is built. I am hopeful that this will be provided soon and I understand that Irish Rail are working with the relevant parties to deliver this.
There will be 1200 spaces at the park & ride facility at the M3 interchange, making it the largest park & ride facility in the country. As well as that there will be 300 spaces at Dunboyne which will facilitate those travelling from longer distances. I am pleased that the new stations provide full accessibility for mobility and visually impaired passengers because, as I have emphasised before, we must make it as easy as possible for all passengers to use public transport services.
Navan Phase 2
The second phase of the Navan Rail project involves the reopening of the next 34 kilometres of railway line from the new station at Pace ‘M3 Parkway’ to a station just north of Navan.
Four stations are proposed along the route at Dunshaughlin, Kilmessan, Navan Central and Navan North. Iarnród Éireann are currently working on the preparation of a Railway Order, which is the equivalent of planning permission, and I’m advised that this is expected to be lodged with An Bord Pleanála by the end of May next year.
Other public transport projects
Of course, the Dunboyne M3 Commuter Railway is only one element of the investment being put in place to enhance public transport infrastructure throughout the country. The public transport network in Ireland, particularly under Transport 21 and with the assistance of the EU, has been revitalised.
In the Dublin area this has included the DART upgrade project, the Kildare Route project, the opening of the two Luas lines, the development of the Quality Bus Network and also the purchase of new buses for Dublin Bus.
Nationally, the rail line from Glounthaune to Midleton and the Western Rail Corridor from Ennis to Athenry have been re-opened, new Intercity railcars have been brought into service, new buses have been introduced by Bus Eireann and a major new rail depot has been built.
Looking forward, good progress is continuing on the extension of the LUAS lines to both Cherrywood and Citywest.
The City-Centre rail re-signalling project is progressing and next year will see the first deliveries of an order of 51 new intercity railcars. In addition, we are funding public transport feasibility studies, as well as investing in bus priority and park & ride measures, in the regional cities. All of this investment has and will continue to provide greater benefits for passengers.
Under the Capital Review 2010-2016 the two priority public transport projects are DART Underground and Metro North. As you all probably know, Iarnród Eireann lodged its application for a Railway order for the DART Underground in July.
An Bord Pleanála has advised my Department that a decision is expected on the Railway Order for Metro North in October. Both projects will be procured by means of a Public Private Partnership.
Land Use Transportation
As we all know, long-term strategic planning is essential in the delivery of appropriate public transport solutions. I would like to commend both Meath County Council and Fingal County Council for their endeavours on this project. The re-opening of the Midleton rail line in Cork set a template for others to follow in terms of co-ordinated transport and land-use development and I continue to encourage all Local and Regional Authorities to develop land-use transportation strategies based on this model.
One of the top priorities of my Department is to encourage people to switch from private cars to public transport as outlined in my Department’s Smarter Travel strategy.
I believe that top class public transport is central to the future of transport policy in this country and your support for projects such as the Dunboyne M3 Commuter Railway will be crucial in achieving this and also in countering the naysayers who knock our continuing investment in public transport projects. By continuing to invest now we are also future-proofing for generations to come.
I am personally aware of the dedication and vision of the various groups and organisations that have worked over the years to ensure that this line is reopened and I would like to acknowledge it here today.
I will conclude by thanking the Chairman, Chief Executive and staff of Iarnród Éireann together with all of the other organisations who have made this day possible. I wish all who use the services a safe, pleasant and enjoyable journey. Thank You.