Labour won’t promise railway station or hospital at “every crossroad”

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said yesterday that his party will not be going around to every cross roads and promise a railway station or hospital.

He was responding to a question from Newstalk presenter Ivan Yates on the proposed Metro North light railway between Dublin and Swords.

Gilmore said: “This is a very different election. This is not going to be an election where the Labour Party is going to go around to every cross roads in the country and promise a railway station here or a hospital there or whatever the case might be.”

The Labour Party told Dublin Observer today that it is its policy to “strongly support” Metro North but it would be unwise to proceed without all of the facts.

“We recognise that it is an enormous construction project that has long-term benefits for public transport and for development in Dublin. However in the current economic climate, given the enormous damage that Fianna Fail has inflicted on the economy and on the public finances, it would be extremely unwise to give a blank cheque to the Metro North project without all the facts in our possession,” said Dermot O’Gara at the Labour Party press office.

He said the party wants a clear and transparent cost-benefit analysis to be undertaken before a final decision can be made.

The business cases released to date have key cost figures blacked out. Estimates for the project range from €5 billion, a number of years ago, to €2.5 billion leaked by government sources to a newspaper recently.

The Department of Transport, the National Transport Authority and the Railway Procurement Agency all say that the cost of the project will not be released before final bids have been made by the two groups of companies looking to build and run Metro North.

Eamon Gilmore yesterday said the railway line would be reviewed and repeated that the party wants focus on the projects which will deliver the most employment.

“We would do a complete review of the National Development Plan and we will bring forward those projects which are capable of delivering employment in the immediate term. We have already said that Metro is one of the projects that we are going to revisit and relook at,” said Gilmore.

Although, the Railway Procurement Agency says the metro line construction is expected to create 4,000 direct construction jobs and thousands more indirect jobs over the years of construction.

The redacted business case for the line says that when ‘spin off’ jobs are included, “Metro North is expected to generate approximately 6,000 jobs during the three years of peak construction, and in excess of 3,000 during the remaining years.” Construction is expected to last around five years.

Those against Metro North say that most of the jobs will go to foreign companies. However, supporters say that — as with the Dublin Port Tunnel — normal construction workers would get the bulk of jobs created, even many of the specialised workers are already living in the country, and nearly as many jobs could be created in the wider economy.

As we reported recently, more advanced enabling works are due to start within months and the RPA are to seek permission for a new depot location in April after its original location was rejected. Monuments are due to be removed from O’Connell Street as part of the enabling works.

For Breakfast on Newstalk’s interview with Eamon Gilmore in full, click below (new window pops up):

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