Dáil Éireann - Volume 563 - 11 March, 2003

Written Answers - Light Rail Project.

  147. Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Transport if he has satisfied himself that he can deliver the Dublin metro by 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7168/03]

  189. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport when he expects to bring proposals to Government regarding the proposed metro system, arising from the outline business case put forward by the Railway Procurement Agency and the alternative proposals put forward by Irish Rail; when he expects that a decision will be made on the matter; the estimated maximum and minimum cost of the proposals at the latest date for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7107/03]

  191. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Transport if he will expand on his reported comments that the proposed Dublin metro cannot happen unless the EU changes its rules on budgetary controls within the euro zone; the steps being taken to address this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7108/03]

  192. Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport the reason reports from his Department of the cost of the first stage of the Dublin metro system has increased from €2 billion to €5 billion over the past two months; and when he intends to publish the report on the business case for the metro from the RPA. [7142/03]

[157]   Minister for Transport (Mr. Brennan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 147, 189, 191 and 192 together.

  Last year the Government agreed that the development of the Dublin metro should be undertaken on a phased basis and as a public-private partnership. The proposal for a metro in Dublin is part of the Dublin Transportation Office's strategy A Platform for Change. Phase 1 of the metro involves a line from Blanchardstown and Dublin Airport to the city centre and Shanganagh. Since then the RPA has concentrated its work on developing the outline business case for phase 1. It has also conducted a preliminary public consultation and a prequalification exercise for potential bidders. More recently Iarnród Éireann submitted a preliminary proposal for a DART link from Connolly station to the airport.

  In November 2002 my Department received the outline business case for phase 1 from the RPA. It includes cost benefit analyses, a financing model, system options, the estimated cost over the lifetime of the project and the estimated timescales involved.

  The final costs of the project will be determined by a number of factors including the route alignment chosen, the structure of the PPP and the bids received as part of the competitive tendering process. The advisers engaged by the RPA estimated that the cost of the various options for phase 1 of the project ranges between €1.7 billion to €3.8 billion in terms of total direct capital cost at 2002 prices. These figures increase substantially when one estimates a final cost which takes account of expected inflation over the period between now and when services commence, VAT, fees, interest charges, the cost of risk transfer and a provision for risk and contingency. A more accurate cost can only be determined when the final structure of the project is decided and competitive bids are received from the interested parties. Nevertheless, I have asked the RPA to review each element of the costs to identify scope for reductions and my Department and the RPA are having discussions in this regard. The possible effects which a project of this scale may have on the overall Exchequer finances and Ireland's obligations under the EU Stability and Growth Pact are also being examined at present. No conclusions have yet been reached in this regard.

  Following completion of the evaluation of the metro outline business case and the Iarnród Éireann proposals in the coming weeks, I intend to bring my recommendations to the Government.

  After a Government decision in the matter the next steps would involve: public consultation on the route alignment selected; negotiation and conclusion of a PPP contract; and the independent public inquiry required under legislation before the railway order granting planning permission for any major railway works can be granted.

  Consistent with my policy for major infrastructure projects, which I outlined in recent days, I [158] will put in place a formal arrangement for the RPA to report progress in relation to the metro.