TWO GROUPS backed by a series of multinationals are set to bid for the right to build and operate a new rail network valued at up to €5 billion.
The State agency charged with developing the Republic’s rail networks announced yesterday that it has chosen two bidders for the Metro North project, the underground rail line which will link Dublin’s city centre with its airport and northern suburb of Swords.
The Rail Procurement Agency (RPA) said that it has asked the Celtic Metro and Metro Express consortiums to put forward their best and final offers to build and manage the project.
The groups each combine multinational building and engineering businesses, rail and public transport operators and financiers (see panel).
Partners in each group have experience of operating rail and tram systems in Europe and elsewhere.
Metro Express partners include AIB, Irish construction group Sisk and locally-based electrical and instrumentation specialist Mercury. Bombardier, whose aerospace division has a manufacturing base near Belfast, is also part of the group.
Celtic’s partners includes Mitsui, which has a long-standing presence in Ireland, and a division of Barclay’s Bank, which has Irish businesses.
The winner of the final bidding round will build and operate the rail line. The RPA will pay the company over 25 years from the date that its starts carrying passengers. This system allows the consortium to recoup its costs and earn a profit.
The cost of building the line has been estimated at between €2 billion and €5 billion. According to recent reports, the recession forced the bidders to lower their costs. The agency said yesterday that it was pleased with the level of competition for the project and added that the final process should deliver value for money to the State while boosting the economy.
According to the RPA, the project will create 4,000 jobs, while Metro Express said in a statement that it could employ between 5,000 and 7,000 people.
The RPA has applied to An Bord Pleanála for an order that will allow the project to go ahead.
The board is not expected to make a decision before September 4th.
If it approves the plan, the RPA will name the successful bidder early next year. The Government then has to approve the decision, and work can then begin on the project.
Celtic Metro and Metro Express saw off competition from two other consortiums, also made up largely of multinationals, to reach the final stage of the competition.
John Sisk & Son : Leading Irish construction firm
AIB : Irish bank
Mercury : Irish engineering group which built the Luas electrical systems
Bombardier : Builds trams and locomotives
Macquarie Group : Part of the Australian bank of the same name; owns and runs rail projects around the world
Global Via Infraestructuras (GIV) : Spanish group, already working on M50 upgrade and operator of seven rail networks
Transdev RATP : Combination of London-listed rail and public transport builder and operator Transdev, and Paris Metro operator RATP
FCC : Spanish construction group
Alpine : Austrian-based tunnel-building specialist
Barclay’s Private Equity : Division of British bank Barclay’s
Obrascon Huartes Lain : Spanish construction and engineering group
Mitsui : Japanese engineering and industrial group
Soares da Costa : Portuguese construction and engineering group
Iridium Concesiones de Infraestructuras : Spanish group specialising in road and public transport construction and management
CAF : Spanish builder of trams and trains
MTR : Hong Kong-based rail network operator.