THE DUBLIN metro project was given a significant boost yesterday when the European Investment Bank announced it had approved a €500 million loan in principle.
The bank’s vice president with responsibility for Ireland, Plutarchos Sakellaris, said yesterday that the project represented a significant contribution to sustainable urban transport for Dublin.
It will be a public-private partnership (PPP) project with a provisional completion date of 2016.
“It will be the backbone for a future integrated public transport network in the Irish capital,” said Mr Sakellaris.
Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey welcomed the decision and said it was an important signal of confidence in a priority public transport project for Dublin.
“Metro North is now well on track for delivery in 2016,” he said.
An oral hearing before An Bord Pleanála on the railway order application for Metro North, concluded in March this year. Its decision is expected during the summer. Separately, the Railway Procurement Agency has shortlisted two PPP consortiums under the procurement process.
Metro North was one of the key projects announced as part of Transport 21. The Government has consistently refused to state what budget will be allotted to the metro system on grounds of commercial sensitivity. The announcement was also welcomed by Fine Gael’s spokesman on transport Fergus O’Dowd.
“It needs to be built as soon as possible and on time,” he said. “Now is the cheapest time to get a loan. It is essential to the city of Dublin in terms of infrastructure.”
The EIB’s loans to the 19km Dublin Metro, which will run from Dublin city centre to Fingal via Dublin airport, will amount to 8 per cent of the project’s estimated €6 billion cost.
The project involves the design and construction of a light metro system serving the northern corridor. Seventeen stations will be built and 21 trains will service the line. The project is designed to be the backbone of a future integrated public transport network in the Dublin region. It will interchange with Luas lines, the Dart and suburban rail services.
However, an underground interconnector linking Heuston and Connolly stations with the city centre and St Stephen’s Green will be necessary to make all those connections possible.
Mr Dempsey said the interconnector would be his main priority when appointed as Minister. However, the completion date for the interconnector looks likely to be 2018, a few years behind schedule.