Tuesday 17 October 2017

Projects face delays says departing CIE chief

TRANSPORT

Emmet Oliver

The collapse of the Irish banks and Ireland's reputation internationally means no major transport projects will get financial backing at present, the chairman of CIE has said.

Dr John Lynch, who retires next week, said most transport projects were now public private projects (PPPs) that needed a private-sector lender to combine with the State.

But he said neither Irish or foreign banks could, or would, back a big transport project in the present climate.

In that context, Mr Lynch threw his weight behind a rail extension to Dublin Airport, which he said was cheaper than all other alternatives currently before Transport Minister Leo Varadkar. He said such a project would cost about €300m over four years.

"That should be the only project to go ahead at the moment, I think,'' he told the Irish Independent.

While still strongly supportive of the so-called DART underground project, financing it at present would be very difficult.

Mr Lynch said Irish banks were not able to fund large-scale projects with their fragile balance sheets and that international banks were shy about coming into peripheral economies until the European debt crisis was solved and the world economy picked up.

Mr Lynch will next week be replaced by Vivienne Jupp, a management consultant from Accenture. Other individuals will chair the individual CIE companies in a radical shake- up of the public transport operator.

Mr Lynch confirmed CIE would lose about €50m when its accounts covering 2010 were released shortly. This figure will contain exceptionals and comes after the payment of an annual state grant. Mr Lynch also said in the interview that he had most enjoyed working with ministers Mary O'Rourke and Martin Cullen.However, he said there was no disagreements with Mr Varadkar, who he said was "very bright''.

Mr Lynch is a former chief executive of FAS and also Bord Gais. He has presided over extensive cost reductions at the transport operator and said this week that his main achievement during his tenure was improving the industrial relations climate at CIE.

Interview Page 5

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