Metro economic value to exceed construction cost of up to €4bn

Transport-user benefits of €6.8bn to stem mainly from saved journey time, say experts

NTA’s Anne Graham and  Peter Walsh: cost/benefit estimates cover a 30-year period after the Metro starts appearing in 2027. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

NTA’s Anne Graham and Peter Walsh: cost/benefit estimates cover a 30-year period after the Metro starts appearing in 2027. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The new Dublin Metro will cost between €3 billion and €4 billion but will deliver a much higher level of economic benefits, according to a cost/benefit analysis undertaken on the project.

The analysis, undertaken by French engineering and consultancy company Systra – and just published on the MetroLink site – estimates the benefits of the investment would be between 2.4 and three times the cost, mainly due to savings on passenger journey times.

However a leading economist has cautioned that the scale of the benefits depends crucially on population growth along the planned route.

The planned route for what is now called MetroLink was published on Thursday involving a 26km link from Swords via the airport and the city centre to Sandyford. It is planned to cater for 15,000 passengers per direction per hour.

The cost/benefit study, which runs to 28 pages including appendices, was undertaken for the National Transport Authority and Transport Infrastructure Ireland. It looks at forecast population growth along the route to develop estimates of passenger numbers, with the main economic gains coming from cutting journey times for commuters, shoppers and businesses. For example, it would take about 25 minutes to travel from Swords to the city centre, compared to at least 50 minutes on the bus.

Population criteria

Other benefits are estimated to come from savings in road travel times as commuters switch to the Metro and areas such as fare payments. Total transport-user benefits are estimated at just under €6.8 billion. The estimates cover the 30-year period after the Metro starts appearing, which is due in 2027.

However a leading economist has cautioned that the user benefits are crucially dependent on population growth along the proposed line. Prof Edgar Morgenroth of the DCU business school said the estimated benefits would depend crucially on the development of housing and businesses close to the route.

“Are we confident that we will get the population densities along the line which will make the project work?” he asked , pointing out that the delivery by local authorities of appropriate land use would be vital. A central goal of the new Government investment programme is to concentrate more housing and apartment development in central Dublin and along public transport routes.

The consultancy report says any cost- benefit ratio above 2 represents high value for money. It says that its calculations are that the investment is “worthwhile, based on economic benefits alone”.

The Metro is the single biggest project in the Government’s long-term investment programme. Following public consultations and planning, it is due to start constriction in 2021, with the first trains running in 2027.