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Written Answers. - Dublin Light Rail System.

Thursday, 28 March 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 463 No. 5

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 133. Mr. S. Brennan Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry  the plans, if any, he has to respond publicly to the specific questions raised about the proposed light rail system by the Dublin Chamber of Commerce recently and in particular the cost of running the city centre part of this scheme underground. [6782/96]

Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Lowry): Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry I have seen press reports of remarks attributed to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. Policy in relation to light rail is quite clear. The Dublin Transportation [1452] Initiative recommended that an on-street light rail system should form part of its overall transport strategy for the greater Dublin Area. The DTI report supported light rail because it represented a sound investment, because it would achieve a significant transfer of people from cars to public transport, because it had a proven capacity to support urban regeneration and because it was environmentally friendly and accessible to mobility impaired people. The DTI report also concluded that a wholly bus-based solution would not be as effective as an integrated public transport strategy based on DART, suburban rail, quality bus corridors and light rail.

The DTI strategy has been accepted by the Government as the policy framework for transportation planning in Dublin. The Operational Programme for Transport, agreed by the Government and the European Commission, make provision for an expenditure of £200 million on the implementation of the first phase of the on-street light rail network as recommended by DTI. The CIE project team is proceeding with its detailed design and consultation work on the basis of these decisions.

When I launched the public consultation programme on the planned light rail links, I stated that its purpose was to explain the light rail proposals, to listen carefully to any concerns expressed in relation to those proposals and to respond to those concerns where possible.

New legislation will be introduced shortly which, among other things, will provide for a mandatory public inquiry into all aspects of the proposed light rail project. It will enable people who are not fully convinced that light rail is the best option to argue their case and have their views considered.

As I indicated during a recent Seanad debate, any people who have concerns about the light rail proposals should use the opportunities afforded by the public consultation programme and the statutory public inquiry to explain their concerns and have them considered.

[1453] Notwithstanding the state policy position on light rail, I, as the responsible Minister will be obliged by the legislation to fully and objectively consider the inspector's report on the public inquiry and the submissions made by interested parties before making a final decision on CIE's application for the statutory powers to construct light rail. This requirement holds true for all infrastructure projects which are subject to statutory procedures.

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