I’m pleased that the Minister for Transport – Pascal Donohoe – has committed that any future proposed changes to level crossings in Dublin 15 would be preceded by engagement with local residents. This same commitment had been made by the former Transport Minister, Leo Varadkar, during the June 2014 local elections. I’ve been seeking to have the new Minister confirm this commitment since he was appointed.
In May of last year, a freedom of information request I made to the National Transport Authority revealed that both the NTA and Fingal County Council had undertaken two studies examining the impact of closing level crossings in Dublin 15 along the Maynooth line and proposing alternative crossing points. The failed attempt to shut the level crossing at Porterstown followed on from these plans. At the time, the then Transport Minister, Leo Varadkar, circulated a leaflet in which he stated that no further efforts to close level crossings on the Maynooth line would be made prior to the end of 2018. He further stated that, in future, “consultation with local residents will take place long before any plans are put on public display”.
Since Pascal Donohoe was appointed Transport Minister in July 2014, I have been corresponding with his Department to see will he make similar commitments (see letters below). I am pleased that he has now finally reaffirmed both that no further efforts will be made to close crossings prior to 2018, but more importantly, that residents will be consulted prior to any future proposals going on public display.
The attempt to close the Porterstown Road level crossing in late 2013 – early 2014, with minimal engagement with local residents, deeply angered the community in the Clonsilla area. It has generated concerns in communities such as Coolmine and Ashtown that a similar top-down approach will be adopted towards the level crossings in these areas. It is absolutely vital that agencies like the National Transport Authority operate in a transparent fashion with local residents and properly respond to all the side effects that would result from any future proposals to close level crossings.