Dukes plans a new study on Luas light rail scheme

 

THE Minister for Transport, Mr Dukes, has appointed the former governor of the Central Bank, Mr Maurice Doyle, on a short term contract to examine plans for the Luas light rail system.

Mr Doyle's study comes at a crucial time for the project. Over the coming months final planning work is due to be completed and a public inquiry will begin.

A spokesman for Mr Dukes said last night that Mr Doyle had been retained on a short term basis to assist the minister with the project.

Mr Doyle is understood to have met CIE's light rail project team last week to have initial discussions. The team is currently completing the main planning work for the project, including an environmental impact study.

After that the plans will go on public display for eight to 12 weeks before the public inquiry.

The inspector's report from the inquiry will be forwarded to the minister, who must then decide whether to give the project the go ahead.

Sources said last night that Mr Doyle will work for a short period on the project, drawing up an assessment for Mr Dukes. They said this does not indicate a fundamental re think of the whole project by the new minister.

But Mr Dukes has indicated that he will have to examine the final proposals and take into account the outcome of the public inquiry and any written submissions received.

Mr Doyle (64) was governor of the Central Bank from 1987 to 1994. Before that he had spent most of his working life in the Department of Finance, becoming secretary of the Department in 1981.

He is well known to Mr Dukes - he was secretary when Mr Dukes was Minister for Finance from 1982 to 1986 - and to the senior officials in the Department, and has wide experience on the working of the public service.

The Luas project has been highly controversial, with some commentators and the motoring lobby arguing that the city centre section should be run underground. Mr Dukes is understood to want to be fully briefed on all the issues surrounding the project before the public inquiry gets underway.

Sources do not believe he is likely to seek any major changes in the plans, although much will depend on the outcome of the inquiry.

The Luas plans have also been criticised for their routing in some areas - a change was recently announced for the Inchicore area - and for what some say is a lack of integration with other public transport methods.