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 was included in the National Development Plan announced by Minister Michael McGrath today.

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 has stated that the commitment to fund the planning process has revived a project that had been 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.”

However, Senator Cassells said it was “fantastic to see this project actually back on the books of a national plan again and a route to see its planning commence”.

“This project was let die for the past decade and was even taken off the books altogether,” he said.

“Getting it back on the books of a national plan and a commitment to fund its planning has been a massive piece of work and I want to thank Minister Michael McGrath for including it.

“The people of Navan and Meath know how crucial this piece of infrastructure is to the future of the town and hopefully we can see things kick on positively from here.”

Deputy O'Rourke said that while he welcomed the mention of the Navan Rail Line in the plan, no firm commitment was given on the vital rail line project.

“Although most recognise the urgent need for a rail connection to Dublin, no dates, budget or guarantees are included, instead it’s still subject to a review. The Plan indicates that funding for the commencement of planning and design of the project will be available, if the review is successful.

“In essence, under the Government's plan, the Navan rail line might, at best, be at planning and design stage in 2030. At that rate, we're likely at least 15 years from the line being delivered. “That's completely unacceptable.

“The major roads projects for Meath - Slane Bypass, N2 Rath Roundabout to Kilmoon Cross, and M3 Clonee to M50 - haven’t moved in terms of priority in the three years since the last NDP was published.

“Minister Ryan’s comments in recent days raise serious questions about the commitment to deliver these projects. It is clear that roads projects have been significantly de-prioritised due to their impact on the climate. The Minister says he can’t guarantee every road project included in the plan will go ahead.”

Deputy O'Rourke asked if this meant the NDP is just a booklet with a long list of projects to keep back-benchers happy, rather than a serious plan to address the deficits in our infrastructure?

“That’s simply not good enough for County Meath, where we are in desperate need for infrastructural investment.

“Some of the other projects included in this document have been launched repeatedly over two decades but remain undelivered, so many will be forgiven for thinking today is nothing more than political theatre.

“Indeed, instead of moving forward on some vital projects, we now seem to be going in reverse.

“The 2027 completion dates for both the Metrolink and DART+ have been removed, in favour of no date at all.

"This NDP was an opportunity to outline a vision and commitment to address infrastructural deficits. Instead, it appears completely incoherent and contradictory, much like the Government itself. It is a major disappointment for Co Meath,” he said.