Cobbles necessary? We're losing symmetry.
Updated route map showing cut n' cover and elevated sections.
Warning over any cancellation of Metro North
06 March 2011 By John Burke and Nicola Cooke
Ireland’s credibility in managing major procurement projects would be dealt a serious blow if the incoming government cancelled the Metro North project, according to an internal memo prepared by senior transport department officials.
The Fine Gael-led administration has only two viable options concerning Metro North: to cancel the project or to approve it immediately, according to the briefing document which was drafted in recent weeks for the outgoing government.
The memorandum, which was obtained by The Sunday Business Post under the Freedom of Information Acts, strongly advances the argument against delaying the project. ‘‘There is a strong view that a further delay to Metro North is not an option," it states.
Any decision to axe the long awaited 18 kilometre route would ‘‘undermine the credibility of the Irish government as a counterparty to PPP [Public Private Partnership] deals’’.
‘‘The PPP process commenced three years ago [and] the PPP bidders have invested substantial amounts in bidding for Metro North and continue to spend money keeping their teams mobilised," it says.
‘‘If the project does not proceed based on this competition it is highly unlikely that bidders with the requisite skills would invest the substantial sums required again to put another bid together," the memo says.
In addition to undermining Ireland’s credibility as a partner in PPP deals, any decision to cancel the project could also have a ‘‘serious impact’’ on other major infrastructure investment projects and on deals in other sectors, the memo says.
The memo said the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) provided the national transport authority with an update to its business case in December, indicating that the cost-benefit ratio was still at 2:1 - meaning €2 returned in revenue for every €1 spent.
Dealing with the question of whether the Dart Underground project should proceed ahead of Metro North, the memo went on to say that while both demonstrated strong economic cases, it was ‘‘significant’’ that Metro North had reached implementation stage, while the planning approval process for the Dart Underground project could take 12 months or more.
An Bord Pleanála granted planning approval for a railway order last October, but did not grant permission for the last three stops and train depot at Belinstown.
As a result, the RPA is now redrafting plans to submit a new application for a depot at the end of the line in Dardistown.
However, the agency is ready to begin ancillary works on the project - such as realigning utility lines and moving city centre monuments - but the outgoing government did not sign a commencement order for this.
The Sunday Business Post previously revealed that one of the bidders had given serious consideration to quitting the process because of the ongoing delays with it.
The Celtic Metro and Metro Express consortiums have both invested several million euro in the project over the last five years.