Definitions

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National Development Plan

National Development Plan (NDP, Plean Forbartha Náisiúnta) is the title given by the Irish Government to a scheme of organised large-scale expenditure on (mainly) national infrastructure. The period covered by the seven year plan runs from 2000 to 2006. A second National Development Plan is currently in progress and is due to run until 2013 (spending €70 million a day every day from 2007 to 2013). The main elements to the original plan was the development of a national motorway network between the major cities in the Republic of Ireland. The upgrading of the rail network was a secondary scheme.

Progress

Road network

As of September 2008 substantial progress has been made on the motorway network. All sections of the five major inter-urban motorways are either complete are under construction. The M1 motorway from Dublin towards Belfast has been completed as far as the border with Northern Ireland. The last section section of N1/M1 route to be completed was the motorway/dual carriageway upgrade that crossed the border to become an upgraded A1 route as far as Newry. This was the first cross-border road project and was opened to traffic on the 2nd of August 2007, thus completing the N1/M1 route.

The M7 motorway from Dublin to Limerick is complete to south of Portlaoise. The last project to be completed on the route was the Naas raod upgrade. It was completed in August 2006 and included the widening of a section of the route to three lanes and the removal of several at-grade junctions. As of 2008, all remaining sections on the new N7/M7 route are under construction. These are the 38 km Limerick-Nenagh M7 scheme (due open mid-2009), the 36 km Castletown-Nenagh scheme (due open late-2010) and the tolled 28 km Portlaoise-Castltown scheme (due open late-2010).

The M4/N4 from Dublin towards Sligo (and providing the link to the N6/M6 for Galway) now reaches as far as the Midlands. As of September 2008, there is now continuous M6 motorway as far as Athone. The rest of the N6/M6 route is under construction as far as Galway (where it will tie in with the proposed M17/M18 schemes). All sections of the M9 motorway to Waterford are under construction with the Carlow-bypass having recently opened and the Waterford-Knocktopher scheme due to open in 2009. The M8 Dublin-Cork road saw remarkable progress this year with the opening of the Cashel-Mitchelstown scheme and the upgrade of the Cashel-bypass to motorway standard. As of September 2008, the next new scheme to open on the M8 will be the M8 Cullahill-Cashel scheme which may be open as early as December this year. All other sections of this route are under construction as of 2007. The N11/M11 is also receiving upgrades along with the new controversial 47 km M3 motorway.

As of 2008, works are in progress to upgrade the now-complete M50 motorway Dublin inner ringroad. The upgrade of parts of the M50 is due to be appended to the NDP. One of the upgrades was the M50 Dublin Port Tunnel project which was a major scheme involving tunnelling from the M1 north of the city centre, through to the Docklands to the east of the city centre. The tunnel was officially opened by the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, on 20 December 2006. Other upgrades included the changing of the N4/M50 to a free-flow layout and an upgrade of the motorway to three or four lanes in each direction between many junctions. Works are in progress to upgrade the N7/M50 and M1/M50 junctions to free-flow or near free-flow layouts, and to upgrade the rest of the route to three or four-lane motorway.

As of 2008, limited progress has been made on the so-called Atlantic Corridor, which aims to link Letterkenny to Waterford, via upgrades of the N15, N17, N18, N20 and N25. The upgrade would see dual-carriageway/motorway links between Letterkenny and Sligo, Sligo and Galway, Galway and Limerick, Limerick and Cork and Cork and Waterford.

However, various sections of the route are planning stages. The M20 Cork-Limerick route is at public consultation stage and an EIS and motorway order are due to be published around April next year. The M17 from Galway to Tuam is at a preliminary design stage. The N18/M18 from Oranmore-Gort (which ties in with the aforementioned M17) is also at preliminary design stage. The high-quality dual carriageway between Gort and Crusheen which ties into the N18 Ennis bypass is at Tender stage. The M25 Wateford City bypass is under construction, due to be completed next year. The N25/M25 New Ross bypass is at the preliminary design stage.

See also: Roads in Ireland

Rail network

Almost all the operational rail network in the Republic has now been upgraded to continuous welded rail – however, much of this work commenced prior to the NDP as part of the Ontrack rail network upgrade programme.

Dublin suburban routes have benefitted from large amounts of new rolling stock, in the form of suburban railcars. These operate north to Dundalk, northwest to Maynooth, southwest to Kildare and south to Arklow. The electrified section of the north-south route through Dublin has had extra EMUs brought into service. Dublin has also seen the opening of a new tram system, Luas.

Major projects undertaken were the upgrade of Heuston Station in Dublin to nine platforms and the new railcar servicing depot in Drogheda. Many other stations, particularly the Dublin suburban stations, have been upgraded and modernised, with elevators for example on new footbridges. Other measures to improve disabled access have been implemented, and park and ride facilities have been developed.

Intercity travel has benefitted from new suburban railcars freeing up intercity rolling stock previously in use. 67 new locomotive-hauled intercity carriages were also introduced. Over 100 "regional railcars" have also been ordered, these will be DMUs for use on peripheral services that are not commuter-only. Services have been increased on routes such as that from Limerick to Ennis.

Planned developments include enhancing suburban rail in Cork, with a section of rail due to be reopened to Midleton, east of the city. Other projects under discussion, some or all of which are likely to be undertaken at some stage, include:

See also: Rail transport in Ireland

Other developments

The national bus operator Bus Éireann's fleet has been significantly invested in, with most of the fleet now five years old or less. The company is now pursuing a policy similar to that of some car owners, retiring buses at a much younger age while still holding some value, and keeping front-end services modern.

This is a particularly visible aspect of the NDP, many buses were up to 20 years old previously.

See also

External links

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