The Climate Action Plan is quite radical and ambitious when it comes to emissions form home heating, electricity generation and private car transport: items which are likely to involve tens of Billions of Ä in costs. By contrast, the ambitions for public transport are pathetic: a few extra and longer trams for the LUAS (announced previously) and virtually no mention of heavy rail, apart from things already announced such as hoped-for tendering for new rolling stock..
If we are serious about radical reductions in CO2 emissions then there will have to be really big changes. A really heavy carbon tax will advantage rail transport in general, if it is already relatively low emissions. This should lead to a significant switch from bus to rail and especially from private cars to rail. We should be thinking of a really large change which will bring the capacity of the rail system into play. So itís not just a matter of electrification, but also of line capacity and investments in such items as better signalling, track doubling, extra passing loops and so forth. There is absolutely no indication that the powers that be are thinking about these issues.
There is a hugely disappointing pattern of announcing plans and then cancelling them or letting them wither on the vine, such as refurbishing the 201s (U.S. railroads get very long life form locomotives and a lot of big refurbishments are part of this). Similarly, is there any real action on the supposedly urgent need to lease (or buy?) 40 second-hand DMUs from the UK? Or has this too fallen victim to bureaucratic wrangling between the NTA, the DoT, Irish Rail and maybe other bodies?
At the centre of this is that we have a Minister for Transport who has absolutely no vision, no ambition for transport and no real leadership qualities, and an NTA whose projects (Metrolink and Bus Connects) seem to be designed to provoke maximum opposition.
So while I think electrification (assuming much greener electricity is delivered) is important, the public transport malaise is a much wider issue.