Dáil Éireann - Volume 500 - 18 February, 1999

Written Answers. - Light Rail Project.

13. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Public Enterprise when construction will start on the Luas project; the estimated cost of the first phase [1378] and the proposed method of funding this; if she will set out a timetable for the completion date of the entire Luas proposal as set out in the Government decision of May 1998. [3923/99]

25. Ms O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Public Enterprise if the light rail advisory action group has reported any difficulties to her in relation to the Luas project; the target date set for the report by the consultants into a public private partnership approach to light rail; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4588/99]

34. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Public Enterprise the estimated cost of the Luas project; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4584/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 13, 25 and 34 together.

Construction of the first light rail line from Tallaght-Abbey Street is expected to commence early next year. CIE is finalising firm budget estimates for this line to take account of the recommendations contained in the inspector's report on the public inquiry.

The first phase of the extended light rail project approved by Government includes two lines: Tallaght to Connolly Station and Sandyford to Ballymun and Dublin Airport. A preliminary estimate by CIE for the whole of this phase indicated a cost of £671 million. This estimate included provision for inflation and a substantial allowance for working capital requirements which would not normally be included in a capital cost estimate. When the necessary geotechnical work in respect of the underground section has been completed at the end of this year it will be possible to arrive at a more accurate estimate of the overall cost.

The Government is committed to ensuring that the necessary finance is available to implement the approved project. Funding for the project in 1999 and subsequent years will be addressed as part of the normal budgetary process when the Government prepares its annual public capital programme. A sum of £20 million has been included in my Department's Estimates for light rail this year. The light rail project will also be submitted for EU assistance under the next round of EU Structural and Cohesion Funding.

Arthur Andersen, consultants, who were appointed to advise my Department on a public-private partnership approach to the light rail project, are expected to submit their report early in March.

Last May I published an indicative timetable for the extended light rail project. A copy of that timetable will be circulated in the Official Report. I am pleased to say that substantial progress has been made since I first published that timetable. I have approved CIE's application for a light railway order for the Tallaght line. The application for the Sandyford line was lodged on 14 December. Preliminary public consultation on [1379] route options for the Broadstone to Dublin Airport section commenced on 18 December and public consultation on the Abbey Street to Connolly Station section has commenced in the past week with the objective of making an application for a light railway order in August. The geotechnical consultancy on the underground section will start shortly and is expected to be completed on schedule by the end of the year.

The Light Rail Advisory Action Group has not reported any difficulties to me in relation to the Luas project. The main priority for the group is to ensure that the development of the expanded Luas network proceeds without delay in accordance with the indicative timetable. The group will report directly to me and its reports will be pub[1380] lished. I expect the first report from the group in the middle of the year.

Luas Indicative Timetable

A preliminary estimate of the timescales involved in implementing the Government's objective of proceeding without delay with the construction of the Tallaght – City Centre section and, subject to the necessary technical confirmation, with the Sandyford – St. Stephen's Green section, is shown below. Indications are also given of the work programme in respect of the extension from St. Stephen's Green to Ballymun and Dublin Airport using the old Broadstone railway alignment and with an underground section in the City Centre. The timetable is subject to the satisfactory completion of the relevant statutory processes and technical evaluations.

Luas Indicative Timetable

Targets

Tallaght – Abbey St.

Sandyford-St. Stephen's Green

Abbey St. – Connolly

Application submitted to Minister for Public Enterprise by CIE

Summer 1998

Winter 1998

Summer 1999

Application documentation on public display; Inspector appointed to conduct public inquiry

Autumn 1998

Spring 1999

Autumn 1999

Public inquiry held

Winter 1998

Summer 1999

Winter 1999

Report from Inspector and Ministerial decision

Spring 1999

Autumn 1999

Spring 2000

Tendering; Light Railway Order comes into effect

Summer 1999

Winter 1999

Summer 2000

Contract letting

Winter 1999

Summer 2000

Winter 2000

Construction begins

Spring 2000

Autumn 2000

Spring 2001

Construction completed

Winter 2002

Summer 2003

Winter 2002

Targets:

St. Stephen's Green –

Broadstone – Ballymun –

Airport

CIÉ Public Consultation on surface section Broadstone-Ballymun – Airport

Preliminary Studies on underground section St. Stephen's Green – Broadstone

Borehole drilling on underground section St. Stephen's Green – Broadstone

Autumn 1998

Autumn – Winter 1998

Spring – Autumn 1999