Down the drain


Value for money would seem to be a secondary consideration in the matter of State investment in some infrastructure projects. Certainly, that conclusion may be drawn from the cost – some € 225 million – involved in the planning and preparation of various ambitious transport infrastructure initiatives for Dublin. A huge financial cost has been incurred, but with no public benefit accruing from the project.

The scale of the economic downturn has meant the three projects, which include Metro North – a proposed underground rail link between the city centre and Swords – have been deferred. And if, as seems likely, these projects are later abandoned, then only€10 million - or 4 per cent of the € 225 million already spent - might be recovered. These are some of the depressing facts to emerge from Government documents released following a Freedom of Information request by The Irish Times.

The Railway Procurement Agency, the State body responsible for light rail and metro infrastructure, has provided a detailed breakdown of the costs already incurred. These include €184 million spent in preliminary work on Metro North and Metro West, and € 44 million on the project, to integrate Dart and suburban rail services. These projects were first envisaged in better economic times. But even then major questions were raised about the high cost of the transport infrastructure proposed, and the likely economic and public benefit that such a large investment might deliver.

What was questionable then on cost benefit grounds is quite unaffordable now, given our straitened economic circumstances. But if the transport projects do not proceed, some issues still need to be addressed. Why, having spent so much in planning and organising this ambitious transport initiative for Dublin have we now been left with so little? Some € 225 million has been spent, of which only €10 million might now be recovered, through the sale – at greatly reduced prices – of properties acquired as part of the transport project.

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