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July 27, 2010

Dublin projects survive Irish spending cuts

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A SPENDING review by the Irish government has spared major rail projects in Dublin from the axe, although plans for new lines outside the capital face a less certain future.

Dart Underground, an 8.6km city-centre connection between Dublin's northern and western commuter rail routes, and Metro North, the city's first light metro line, have both escaped the cuts, while the St Stephen's Green - Liffey Junction extension of the Luas light rail network will also go ahead, providing a link between the Red and Green lines.

However, the government has confirmed that it no longer intends to support the 27km third phase of the Western Rail Corridor from Tuam to Claremorris. Irish Transport System (CIE) is currently seeking around €60 million to fund Phase 2, a 25km extension from Athenry to Tuam.

Plans to reintroduce trains between Dublin and Navan have also been dropped. The initial 7.5km section of the line between Clonsilla and Pace is due to open later this year, although the spending review has ruled out the construction of a second phase that would extend the line to Navan North. The project was previously due for completion by 2015.

Ireland's budget deficit is expected to equal 11.7% of GDP this year and the government has initiated a wide-ranging series of austerity measures in an effort to stabilise public finances.

The Irish economy has shrunk by around 10% in two years, reducing passenger demand in many areas. Figures released this week by Irish Rail (IE) show ridership fell by 5.9 million to 38.8 million last year, contributing to a loss of Euros 4 million.
irish-projects.jpg Dublin's Dart Underground link is one of the projects that has escaped the Irish government's spending custs. This view shows the planned new station at Inchicore.

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