Monday 26 January 2009

Metro North disruption costs may run to €250m

The extra cost of minimising "severe" delays and disruption forecast for Dublin city centre during construction work for the proposed Metro North line could be over €250m, according to confidential estimates provided to Dublin City Council.

In a summary of estimates provided to a sub-group of the council's Transport 21 committee, agencies such as Iarnród Éireann, Dublin Bus, the RPA, An Garda Síochána and the council suggest a range of measures which, if implemented in full, would cost a total of at least €69m.

More than three-quarters of this amount – some €52m – relates to annual costs envisioned by the agencies in question, with only a small proportion of funding already allowed for under existing Transport 21 allocations. Therefore, if the construction phase were to last five years, the cost of minimising disruption to the city could be €250m or more.

Among the largest estimates for annual costs was submitted by Dublin Bus, which earlier this month revealed plans to cut 290 jobs and reduce its fleet by 120 buses in a bid to reduce losses at the firm. It outlined a range of measures which, if implemented, would cost almost €22m a year.

According to the initial estimates, which were outlined in a draft report which has been circulated in recent weeks, the costs include €9m gross per year to increase daily passenger capacity on each of the two existing Luas lines.

They also include €5.3m net per year for Dublin Bus to introduce 42 additional buses which it claims is necessary to facilitate the introduction of a "bus gate" at College Green. This would restrict access for private cars to Westmoreland street, D'Olier Street and College Green.

Among the other anticipated costs are €11m a year for increased off-peak Dart services and €5.8m net per year for Bus Éireann to operate an all-day peak commuter service during construction.

Dublin City Council also estimates it would need €7.5m to provide major bus stops within the affected areas with real-time passenger information displays.

Separately, An Garda Síochána is also looking for €4m annually to allow 35 extra gardaí work 12-hour shifts daily.

Many of the figures are exclusive of VAT, while in other cases no estimates are provided for other initiatives to lessen disruption, meaning the final overall figure could be even higher, although it is also possible not all of the measures will be introduced.

Elsewhere, the report noted that the impact of the Metro North works to Dublin city centre is likely to be severe.

It warned that around 157,000 people working in Dublin city centre could be facing delays and disruption, with significant potential for delays to shoppers using the city centre, including drivers in particular. This will require significant mitigation measures, it notes.

The RPA has to date refused to say how much the overall cost of the Metro will be. Earlier this month, the Sunday Tribune revealed the agency has paid out €38m to consultants for advice on the Metro project since 2002.

Sunday Tribune

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