THE state is to spend tens of millions of euro reacquiring land for the planned DublinNavan rail line previously sold off by CIE to adjoining landowners for sums as low as IR£10 or less.
The alignment of the route is still intact, has only one public level crossing and is largely free of development.
However, it is no longer owned by CIE as the line from Clonsilla in west Dublin to Navan was sold off in its entirety in the late 1960s.
The old Navan rail line was closed completely in 1963. A subsequent decision to sell the land was made because, at a time of severe cutbacks in the rail network, there would have been ongoing costs of maintaining the land along the abandoned line, including fencing and drainage.
Given the narrow strips of land on offer, the only people interested in acquiring it at the time were adjacent landowners, primarily farmers.
This de facto buyers' market resulted in rock-bottom prices being charged for it . . . in some cases believed to be less than IR£10 ( 12.70).
That land must now be bought back as part of the project to re-instate the Navan rail line.
Presuming a positive outcome in Iarnrod Eireann's application for a Railway Order (the equivalent of planning permission for rail schemes), construction of the first phase of the Navan rail line . . . from Clonsilla to Dunboyne to the M3 interchange at Pace, north of Dunboyne . . . is likely to begin late next year and be completed in early 2010.
Around 40% of the project costs on Clonsilla-Dunboyne (M3) will be taken up by property acquisition, although not all of this relates to the land sold off 40 years ago.
The bill from this acquisition will run to tens of millions of euro and is provided for in the government's Transport 21 plan.