New National Investment Framework for Transport in Ireland
Last updated on
Last updated on
The Department of Transport has today (Tuesday 21 December) published a new transport investment framework to help Government deliver its vision for the sustainable development of Irish society.
The National Investment Framework for Transport in Ireland (NIFTI) sets out clear principles for the consideration of future transport investment and is closely aligned with key Government policy priorities and commitments, such as the Climate Action Plan and the National Development Plan.
Transport investment is a significant driver of population and settlement patterns. NIFTI seeks to ensure that the transport sector is closely aligned with the development targets set out in the National Planning Framework, including more compact urban growth and balanced regional development.
This new framework replaces the previous Strategic Investment Framework for Land Transport (SIFLT), which was published by the Department of Transport in 2015. NIFTI establishes four strategic investment priorities to address the transport challenges ahead. These priorities, which have equal weighting in the framework, include Decarbonisation, Protection and Renewal, Mobility of People and Goods in Urban Areas, and Enhanced Regional and Rural Connectivity.
Unlike the previous framework, which had ranked the maintenance of the network as the foremost priority, the NIFTI priorities are unranked – thus allowing for greater flexibility in the consideration of projects and for the support of new investment projects where appropriate.
Referring to today’s publication, the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD, said:
“The National Investment Framework for Transport in Ireland recognises that transport investment plays a key role in where and how we live and travel, and its huge potential to create liveable connected communities. It also reflects the need to rapidly decarbonise the sector to deliver our national emissions reduction commitments, by considering active and public transport options first when developing solutions. The Government’s commitment to deliver a cleaner, greener transport system—one that provides accessibility and opportunity for all—are reflected in the principles of this framework.”
Minister of State with responsibility for International and Road Transport and Logistics, Hildegarde Naughton TD, added:
“With the publication of the National Investment Framework for Transport in Ireland, we will ensure that the appropriate balance is struck between the protection and renewal of our existing transport assets and the development of new infrastructure, guaranteeing connectivity to people and businesses in every community across the country.”
While NIFTI will be an important tool in future decision making by capturing critical data for assessment purposes, it will be only one element of a wider process that will inform decisions of Government on transport projects. Investment decisions will also continue to reflect the 2:1 ratio of expenditure between new public transport infrastructure and new roads in the Programme for Government, as well as the guaranteed €360m per annum in investment in active travel.
Notes to the Editor
The National Investment Framework for Transport in Ireland and supporting documentation is available by following this link here .
NIFTI establishes both what types of projects will receive investment in the coming years (the Investment Priorities) and how investment will be undertaken (the Modal and Intervention Hierarchies). NIFTI will primarily be used as a tool by project sponsors in the development of transport proposals. When developing proposals for future transport investment, project sponsors will be required to demonstrate alignment with the NIFTI priorities. In the consideration of potential solutions, the NIFTI modal and intervention hierarchies will be used to support the development and consideration of the options available to meet a given transport need or problem. In this way, NIFTI will support the consideration and identification of the most appropriate, most sustainable and most cost-effective investment solutions in line with Project Ireland 2040.
A summary of NIFTI’s key principles and an example of how it will be applied in practice is set out below.
The strategic investment priorities articulated by NIFTI have been developed to support the realisation of the NPF and address key transport challenges identified through extensive supporting analysis. The four NIFTI priorities for future land transport investment are:
• Protection and Renewal
• Mobility of People and Goods in Urban Areas
• Enhanced Regional and Rural Connectivity
These priorities replace the three strategic investment priorities established by the Strategic Investment Framework for Land Transport (SIFLT), published by the Department of Transport in 2015. In contrast to the three SIFLT priorities, which ranked achieving steady state maintenance of the network as the foremost priority, the NIFTI priorities are unranked. This is in acknowledgement of the fact that there may be cases where new investment is required to meet an investment objective, and simply maintaining an existing asset is insufficient.
NIFTI supplements the priorities with modal and intervention hierarchies, which seek to ensure that transport problems are properly identified, and that investment is used to target the correct solutions.
The use of the hierarchies will support the consideration of a range of transport solutions from both a sustainability and cost-effectiveness perspective.
Under the modal hierarchy, proposed projects in the transport sector will first consider active travel (walking, wheeling and cycling) and public transport solutions before consideration is given to private transport options. Under the intervention hierarchy, project sponsors will also need to demonstrate that the maintenance or optimisation of existing assets has been considered ahead of extensive improvements or outright new infrastructure.
However, investment will continue to be objectives-led. It is recognised that some modes and interventions will not be appropriate to address some transport challenges. Where interventions from further down each of the hierarchies (e.g., new or enhanced infrastructure) are demonstrated to be the most appropriate solution to solve the issue at hand, then these are the interventions that will be developed.
Example of NIFTI Usage
As part of project development, Sponsoring Agencies (e.g., local authorities, TII, the NTA) will have to demonstrate that a proposed investment aligns with one or more of the priorities to be considered for funding. For example, maintaining lifeline infrastructure on the regional and local road network supports ‘Protection and Renewal’ and ‘Enhanced Regional and Rural Connectivity’, while expanding universally accessible active travel infrastructure in our towns and cities encourages walking and cycling, aligning with ‘Decarbonisation’ and ‘Mobility of People and Goods in Urban Areas’. This is consistent with the existing requirement for project sponsors to demonstrate that a project aligns with the National Planning Framework.