Friday 29 June 2007

Dempsey doesn't know date for Luas missing link

TRANSPORT Minister Noel Dempsey has admitted he does not know when the red and green Luas lines in Dublin will be joined up.

The lack of a link was "dividing up the city", Fine Gael transport spokesperson Olivia Mitchell told him.

She said the urgency of the matter could not be overstated.

Asked when the lines would be joined, Mr Dempsey said, "I do not know." The matter was not completely in his hands nor in those of the Rail Procurement Agency (RPA). There were outside agencies such as the city council which had to be consulted.

Ms Mitchell said it should be a "relatively simple project" to join the lines. The difficulties demonstrated the lack of any kind of a body in Dublin to coordinate decisions and ensure they were made.

The minister said he did not disagree with Ms Mitchell that greater coordination was needed.

That was why one of his first actions in the department had been to ask about the Dublin Transportation Authority legislation.

"I have indicated my wish to have it brought to Government as a matter of urgency and I hope we will have it in the House in the early stages of the autumn session," said Mr Dempsey. It would help expedite projects such as the Luas link line.

Ms Mitchell said she would welcome getting that legislation running and making the Dublin Transportation Authority a body "with teeth".

On delays caused by consulting outside bodies, she said it was time for the consultation to stop since it had been going on since 2005.

There should be no outside agencies but rather a single agency to drive matters ahead. It was essential that the trams could bring people right into the city centre and on to the south side.

The minister said preliminary results of the city council's traffic-modelling exercise were expected in the autumn.

The scheduled completion date for the overall project, including the cross-city link and subject to the statutory approval process, was 2012.

Geraldine Collins
Irish Independent

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