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Sinn Féin expresses scepticism over DRD Regional Transport Strategy

22 March, 2005

Speaking from Stormont this morning in response to the DRD Regional Strategic Transport Network Initiative, Sinn Fein Assembly Member for Foyle and Party Spokesperson for Regional Development, Raymond has expressed scepticism over plans to upgrade the transport infrastructure as outlined in the Regional Strategic Transport Network.

Mr McCartney said:

"Once again we have seen the insistence of a British Direct Rule Minister ploughing ahead with plans which give no consideration to the huge infrastructure deficit we have experienced in the North West, and West of Bann. There is no joined approach and the all-important All Ireland transport strategy that is so desperately lacking in this approach. It means nothing that John Spellar and DRD mean to actually look at the proposition of a dual carriageway on the A6 Route between Derry and Belfast.

"Derry is the only City in Western Europe without a motorway within 30 miles of the city. This is the 21st Century ˆ even with the EU Transport TEN-T programme to deliver on road infrastructure projects, the Minister is at this stage commissioning traffic surveys on the A4, A1 and A6 Routes, and will only consider beginning work on dualling these routes after the all of the 2015 Planned works are completed.

„The RSTN Plan is committed to using Public ˆ Private Partnerships to deliver on key infrastructure capital works programmes, such as the A1 and A4 Transport Corridors, namely the Enniskillen to Belfast Route and the Newry ˆ Dublin Corridor. Sinn Fein is opposed to such an approach and further reinforces the Government‚s privatisation agenda towards delivering on public transport.

"The Minister has unveiled £1.57billion for the upgrade of Road, Rail and Port transport integration. The Budget Priorities announced by NIO and Direct Rule Finance Minister, Ian Pearson as outlined indicates that these figures are bandied about to fool the public into believing that major work is proceeding. The allocation of monies for investment is to be reduced over the next 3 years by some £30million. Under Objective A of the Budget 85% of investment figures for DRD is attributed to Structural maintenance of Transport Corridors and the Road Improvements are part and partial of developing the Road network.

"The Rail network must be considered a key priority in order to alleviate the huge environmental impact and traffic disorder which freight presents on our roads. Yet, these announcements pay lip service to developing a truly holistic multi-modal transport strategy, which incorporates a greater level of interconnectivity between Rural and Urban Communities.

"These Plans are designed to tackle linking those regional hubs, air and seaports, cross border corridor routes. The development of the Western Seaboard, which would link the RDS and the NDP, via a modern, accessible All Ireland Transport Plan is where the DRD and National Roads Authority thinking needs to be. In an era when car ownership is increasing, road traffic congestion a headache, rural communities isolated and marginalized due to neglect by such plans ˆ now is the time for delivery not traffic surveys to monitor transport 'need'."ENDS

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