herald

Sunday 23 September 2018

Metro plan faces the buffers after tenders drop out

FEARS have been raised over the future of the Metro North project after it emerged that two tenders have withdrawn from the project.

The revelations came amid concerns that cancellation of the project would have "serious consequences both economically and recreationally for the greater Dublin area".

Frank Allen, chief executive of the RPA, told a meeting of Fingal Council last night that two of the four tenders withdrew support in the project due to "financial challenges".

However, he said the two remaining tenders involved in attempting to "lock in" the project are "committed to continuing with the issues ahead".

Outlining the plans for the project, he said the Metro North would cater to an estimated 20,000 passengers per hour and would provide a vital transport service for the health and education sector.

He said if the project gets the go ahead, it will demonstrate globally that "Ireland is open for business".

He said: "This is about the expansion of Dublin in an area that is most coherent to take the project which is Dublin's Northside. This is about economic recovery of the country and it would demonstrate that Ireland is planning for itself -- as a nation we cannot abandon strategically thought-out plans".

He said the successful development of the project would cut travel times from 60 minutes on Dublin Bus services to just 20 minutes on the metro.

He explained that Dublin, particularly the Northside, would experience massive reductions in traffic congestion and that the project would provide vital transport services for Ireland's "upcoming younger population".

Explaining the terms of the project, he said a potential bidder would supply the full costs to develop it under what is known as a private public insurance deal.

He said the State would then pay back the cost of the project over a period of 30 years.

It was outlined that the project has the potential to create 25,000 jobs over a phased period.

He said the project would cost an estimated ¤3.5bn, but added that "it is too difficult to give a precise figure of the costs".

Fingal Council's Mayor Ken Farrell urged the public "not to let up at this particular stage" and urged them to "ensure everything is done to have the Metro North".

Concerned Fingal County councillors called on the Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar to "state his position on the project and say whether or not he is willing to support it".

Cllr Ciaran Byrne (Lab) argued that the project "is a critical infrastructure based on increasing housing capacity which will require the metro system".

He added, "Government ministers must stand over their electoral commitments.

"We have a wealth of investment resources that could be utilised."

Cllr Eugene Coppinger (SP) argued that the project is "shovel ready" and has the potential to cut traffic congestion which would inevitably limit environmental damage.



disastrous

He said a clear message needs to be sent to the Government that the project "needs the go ahead".

Other councillors argued that failure to implement the project would be "disastrous". Chief executive of the RPA Frank Allen said deferral of the project would pose a number of fundamental issues, but cancellation would result in severe "implications for the economic development of Dublin".

He added: "The issue now is not about justification for a sound proposal but about the timing of our decision-making in relation to our common future."

hnews@herald.ie

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