Under €50m for Metro North as works advance

An RPA image of what enabling works hoardings could look like

The Railway Procurement Agency says it expects to spend less than €50 million on enabling works, but said that further costs of enabling works are currently ‘confidential.’

Enabling works for Metro North — which started last April — are soon to move up a gear. The enabling works includes clearing sites, moving statues, and diverting utilities away from work sites (such as ESB lines, communication cables, and water and gas pipes).

Asked how much enabling works would cost this year and beyond, Tom Manning at the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) said: “Less than €50m in 2011. Remaining figures confidential in advance of tender processes.”

An Bord Pleanala last year granted the RPA a railway order – the project’s planning permission – to build Metro North. However, one of the main conditions given was that no stops are to be built north of Swords and that the planned depot above the town is to be relocated.

The planning authority said that main construction, such as tunnelling, must not begin before permission for a new depot was granted, but enabling works are allowed to continue.

Manning said the agency will make an application for a new depot in April, but the time frame for a decision on that issue lies with An Bord Pleanala. The public consultation for the depot is due to end next week.

An Bord Pleanala also said that bored tunnelling should be looked as an alternative to the current planned ‘cut and cover’ build method along the Ballymun Road, between DCU and Ballymun. But that condition – the RPA says — leaves the decision to the Metro North contractor. Two ‘preferred bidders’ remain interested in that Public Private Partnership contract. Boring a tunnel is less disruptive, but more expensive than ‘cut and cover’, which is cutting a trench in the ground and effectively building a tunnel by putting a roof on the trench.

Manning said the selection of the winning bidder for full construction is now due in 2012, with that construction due to start in mid 2012.

The final decision the government has said can only be made when bids are finalised. Both the government and the RPA refuse to reveal the estimated costs of Metro North. Figures from €5 to €15 billion have been repeated in the media, although a ‘government source’ was quoted recently by the Irish Independent saying that the metro would cost €2.5 billion.

The project’s funding transferred from the Department of Transport to the National Transport Authority (NTA) in December 2009. Before that happened, costs had toped €127.2m – this was broken down: €64.9m on project management and development, €24m on land acquisition, and €38.3m on enabling works.

Once enabling costs are paid for, the Private Public Partnership is expected to spread the cost of the project over 25 years, and payable only once passengers are on the metro after 5-6 years of construction. The European Investment Bank has said it would loan up to €500m of the cost. Although a report late last year says that the bank is looking at funding up to €1 billion, leaving a smaller amount to be raised by the preferred bidders.

The amount of under €50m to be spent on metro enabling works this year comes from the NTA capital expenditure budget of €240m, which is given down from a total Department of Transport budget for €2.12 billion. The rest is set to be spend on finishing the Citywest Luas line, traffic management, bus priority, and other projects and programmes.

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