Commitment to planning and design of Navan rail line in NDP

A commitment towards the commencement of planning and design of the Navan Rail line is included in the National Development Plan announced by Minister Michael McGrath this week, with the possibility of reopening the line to Kingscourt also to be examined.

There was also a reiteration of the earlier commitment to the Slane Bypass as well as the N2 Rath Roundabout to Kilmoon, the N3 Virginia Bypass, the N3 Clonee to M50 and the N2 Ardee to south of Castleblaney.

The NDP sets aside funding to progress the planning and design of the rail projects that will emerge from the review of the transport strategy of the Greater Dublin Area that is currently underway.

However, it specifically mentions the Naval Rail line and the options for its proposal under this commitment.

Chapter nine of the NDP plan states that a “review of the transport strategy for the Greater Dublin Area is currently underway and allocations provided under this NDP will allow for the commencement of planning and design of rail projects that might emerge from that review including options for the proposed Navan Rail Line.”

Welcoming the news local Senator Shane Cassells stated the commitment to fund the planning process has revived a project "let die for the past decade".

However, Deputy Darren O'Rourke said the NDP was a major disappointment for Meath and warned it could be 15 years before the rail line is delivered.

“The commitment to the Navan Rail project is, at best, for planning and design, not for the commencement of works, meaning it would be at least 15 years before the project is delivered.”

Cathaoirleach of the Meath on Track Campaign Peadar Tóibín TD welcomed the inclusion of the Navan to Dublin Rail Line in the National Development Plan: “This is good news. There has been a lot of work done by the Meath on Track Campaign to put serious pressure on the government on this issue in the run up to this decision. The importance of this piece of infrastructure to the county cannot be overstated.”

The Aontú leader said the rail plan is very necessary: “This morning the majority of workers in Meath left the county today to go to work outside the county, this happens in no other county, in the country, Meath people commute further than any other county, indeed Navan is the largest town in the country without a rail line. Tens of thousands of people in Meath are living in commuting hell, spending two and three hours stuck in traffic. All of this must change for the physical and mental wellbeing of the county and for the economic health of Meath.

“Despite the project being in the NDP, the government have still not committed to it. So we are cautious still in term of this. The rail line has been kicked around as a political football for so long now that many people are cynical on the government’s approach,” Deputy Tóibín said.

Continuing the line to Kingscourt is also to be examined. The NDP says the ongoing Strategic Rail Review is examining how to develop currently underutilised lines like the Western Rail Corridor and the reopening of disused lines.

Included in this is the Navan-Kingscourt branch, but no timeframe or potential cost is being given.

Green Party representative for Cavan Monaghan, Tate Donnelly, welcomed the mention of the Navan to Kingscourt railway line in the revised NDP saying: “For too long this region has been neglected and left out of large national capital transport and infrastructural projects. Cavan, Monaghan, and Donegal are the only counties in the country which have no running rail line, demonstrating a neglect of our region from successive governments.

“It represents a sign of hope for this region that we might see a running rail line come back here in the future. I intend to keep the pressure on to see this become a reality, and I encourage others to do the same,” Mr Donnelly concluded.