herald

Thursday 23 November 2017

It would take us 100 years to fund new Metro -- Leo

METRO North would not be completed for 100 years with the money currently available, Leo Varadkar has admitted.

Even if he used all the cash available to him, it would take a century to build the proposed light rail system, the Minister for Transport said.

In a letter to Fingal county councillors, Mr Varadkar said he is "as disappointed as anyone that Metro North has been deferred indefinitely".

However, it is "simply not possible" to fund it at the moment, he added.

About €1.2bn went on transport in 2011 and the figure falls to €0.8bn by 2016.

The vast majority of this will go on 'close out' payments for the motorways already built and maintenance of existing roads and railways. It leaves only about €40m a year for new roads and railways. "Metro North would have cost €3.2-3.7bn. Even spread over 10 years, that would be €400m a year. I have €40m a year. At that rate, getting the Metro to Swords would take 100 years," Mr Varadkar said.

"It just isn't affordable," he added, explaining that even if Metro North was built, fares would have to be €20 each way to cover the operating costs as "we would not be able to subsidise it". The minister raised the possibility of substituting the underground proposal with an above-ground option.

"I hope that someday it will be possible to built Metro North or perhaps an on-street project would be cheaper," he said.

He also said the transport investments made by the private sector have not worked out well.

"(We) have three 'ghost' train stations in Dublin for developments that failed and toll roads with so few cars using them that some companies who took part in the public private partnerships to build the roads are now in serious financial trouble," the minister said.

The Government announced late last year that Metro North, along with Dart Underground, the Thornton Hall prison and the Grangegorman DIT campus project, would be deferred.

comurphy@herald.ie

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