More than €358m spent on delayed metro, bus and rail projects

Department says public consultation processes and pandemic have caused delays

Government approval of the plans will allow the proposed 16 Core Bus Corridors move into the planning system. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Government approval of the plans will allow the proposed 16 Core Bus Corridors move into the planning system. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

More than €358 million has been spent on delayed metro, bus and rail projects in the capital.

It comes as members of the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) are to quiz the Department of Transport’s secretary general on the cost of MetroLink, BusConnects and Dart+.

In his opening statement Department of Transport secretary general Ken Spratt is to tell the PAC that he expects the preliminary business cases for the three “Dublin mega projects” to go to Government for approval shortly.

A separate department briefing note provided costs incurred so far for the projects and also says that public consultation processes and the Covid-19 pandemic have caused delays.

Some €70.3 million has been spent on the MetroLink project between Swords and Charlemont Street via Dublin Airport from March 2018 to October 2021.

This does not include the €170 million spent on Metro North – a previous version of the proposed train service, a sum that is not referenced in the briefing note.

A total of €76.7 million has been spent on BusConnects between 2018 and the end of September this year. And €41.3 million has been spent on Dart+ from 2016 to October 2021.

In total, €358.3 million has been spent on the two metro projects, BusConnects and Dart+.

The briefing for the PAC says the preliminary design for MetroLink is “substantially complete”.

Subject to Government approval of the business case, it is expected that a railway order application will be ready to be lodged by the end of June 2022.

The pandemic is blamed for delays in finalising the documentation for this application.

Potential impact

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) is also said to be engaging with the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Trinity College Dublin (TCD) “in relation to issues raised by both bodies with respect to the potential impact of proposed station location/tunnel alignment on St Stephen’s Green and the college campus respectively”.

The document says the €76.7 million in spending on BusConnects does not include the purchase of new buses “as this forms part of the steady State renewal of bus fleet during the period”.

Government approval of the plans will allow the proposed 16 Core Bus Corridors move into the planning system.

Some communities have raised objections to proposed routes and changes to their existing service.

The department says delays have been experienced in the design and development of the Core Bus Corridors and a network redesign, and cites the “various public consultations” as part of this. It also says that public health measures due to the pandemic have delayed progress.

There are five projects within the Dart+ programme.

The expectation is that a railway order application will be made for Dart+ West in the first half of 2022.

A preferred bidder for the Dart+ Fleet has been selected and the contract is to be awarded soon subject to Government approval of the business case.

It is expected that the new trains will be delivered in 2024 and will enter service the following year.

Irish Rail announced on Wednesday that it had started a second round of public consultation on Dart+ South West which is to electrify existing rail lines between Hazelhatch, Celbridge and Heuston Stations, and also to Glasnevin, via the Phoenix Park Tunnel.

The Department of Transport did not address an Irish Times question on the €170 million that was spent on the previous Metro North project and whether it was wasted.

A statement said it supplied details of €188.3 million of expenditure “in relation to the planning and design of three of the most significant public investment projects in the history of the State”.

It said the spending on MetroLink, BusConnects and Dart+ “relates to the work necessary to enable these hugely significant infrastructure projects reach the necessary stage of development to enable a planning application”.