The Minister for Transport, Mr. Séamus Brennan TD, said today (Thursday, 28th November 2002) that the Luas light rail system is a flagship project of the Government and would receive the full level of funding that was committed to its construction and completion.
Minister Brennan said some media reports following the publication on 14th November of the Book of Estimates erroneously suggested that the Luas project would be delayed as a result of restrictions on the level of Government investment.
I can state clearly today that the approved budget of €675 million, including contingency, will be invested in this project. The provision for next year of €126.9 million will meet the required investment in the next phase of the project. In addition to this capital investment, a further €5.6 million will be allocated for mobilisation costs associated with the actual commencement of the Luas service.
The Minister added: If there are delays to the Luas then it will not be because of any restrictions on funding. I am disappointed at the reports that some slippage has occurred in the construction /design programme but I trust that everyone concerned will do all in their power to ensure no further delays will take place and that the construction of the system is completed at the earliest possible date so that commuters will have access to services in the early months of 2004.
The Minister was speaking at a ceremony in Dublin for the formal signing of the Luas operating contract between the Rail Procurement Agency and Connex Transport; the company awarded the contract for operating the service.
The Minister said that the introduction of Luas alone will not solve all of our congestion problems but it is an integral part of the plans to revitalise Dublins public transport system under the National Development Plan and the DTOs Platform for Change.
Luas will play a major role in persuading the travelling public of the merit of public transport. We must all do whatever we can to make sure the system is open for passenger services at the earliest possible date. The detail of the contract signed today is a matter for the two companies but I do know that the achievement of performance standards is a fundamental part and Connex will be expected to deliver reliable, high quality, safe services. It is my intention that the contract will be used as a model for similar public transport contracts in the future. The safety aspects of Luas will also be the responsibility of Connex and the company will be required to submit a safety case to the Railway Safety Commission that I hope will be established early in the New Year.
The Minister said an integrated ticketing system should be in place by the time Luas services begin. I believe that a ticketing system that, for the convenience of passengers, allows the use of one ticket or, in the longer term, smartcard technology across public transport modes is essential for the times we live in. The integrated system will be piloted in Dublin and will be extended to the rest of the country in due course.
More information: Tom Rowley, Press Office (01) 6041089 087 8124723
Mary Sheerin, Press Office (01) 6041089 087 2577148