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Transport | Passenger capacity improvements for Kildare North rail lines

To ask the Minister for Transport the extent to which passenger capacity is being or can be improved on the north Kildare commuter lines such as Naas-Sallins, Hazelhatch, Kilcock, Maynooth, Leixlip and Confey; if park-and-ride facilities are likely to be provided or extended on these very busy routes; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

As the Deputy nay be aware, the DART+ Programme is a cornerstone programme of projects for the development of rail in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA). The programme will extend and enhance the current DART system and services west to Maynooth and Celbridge/Hazelhatch, south to Greystones and north to Drogheda. Once complete, the programme will deliver a doubling of existing DART capacity.

The Government decision on DART+ from December 2021 included specific approvals to purchase additional DART fleet for the DART+ West project to enter the statutory planning process. In respect of new DART+ fleet, a down payment was made for 95 new electric and battery-electric units at the end last year, with these units expected to enter service in 2025. In respect of DART+ West, a Railway Order application was submitted to An Bord Pleanála by Iarnród Éireann on 29 July and the consultation period is now open.

Further extensions to DART services in the years ahead are being considered as part of the NTA’s review of the Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area. The revised draft Strategy includes proposals to extend DART services beyond Maynooth and Cellbridge/Hazelhatch. However, any such extensions are separate projects to DART+ West and DART+ South West and would require their own approvals.

The Deputy may recall, in addition to the DART+ Fleet project, the Government has previously approved the purchase of 41 additional intercity railcars.  These additional carriages, the first of which arrived in Ireland in recent weeks, will allow for enhanced services in the GDA upon entry into service in 2023.

In relation to park and ride facilities, the National Transport Authority (NTA) has responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in our cities, including park and ride facilities through the Park and Ride Development Office. Noting the NTA’s responsibility in the matter, I have referred the Deputy’s question to the NTA for a direct reply.  Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 days.

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