Sunday 22 February 2009

Metro North rail bids due this week

The four consortiums vying to build the Metro North rail system in Dublin are finalising their bids and will submit them to the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) this week. The Sunday Business Post understands that the consortiums have focused on reducing costs where possible, and that bids are expected to be in the region of €3 billion to €4 billion. Sources confirmed that the drop in property prices, and competition among subcontractors for work, had allowed them to revise costings downwards.

Sources close to the consortiums said that the technical and financial aspects of the bids had been stressed as the main points on which a decision would be made. The sources said that the government had reiterated that the project was not in danger of being scrapped.

Transport minister Noel Dempsey has said that the government supports the project, but that it must represent value for money in the current economic climate. The minister said that capital investment projects that generated employment in the construction sector were a priority, and that the rail project should generate several hundred jobs.

However, raising private capital to fund the 17-kilometre link between the city centre and Swords is likely to be challenging for the consortiums. This is expected to be a significant factor in the RPA’s selection of the final offer over the coming months.

The RPA is expected to examine the bids over the next month, before meeting the individual consortiums for briefings and questions on their submissions.The bidders will be given time to elaborate on technical details or variations in their project designs.

The four consortiums are Dublin Express Link, which includes SIAC,H SBC and French Metro operators Keolis; Cathro Consortium,which includes Luas operator Veolia and Siemens; Metro Express, which includes AIB, Transdev and Sisk; and the CelticMetro Group,wh ich is composed of foreign operators and headed by Tokyo-based investment groupMitsui.

Sunday Business Post

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