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Monday 22 September 2014

More than €200m 'wasted' if key transport projects are not revived

Shane Phelan, Public Affairs Editor

Published 17/05/2014 | 02:30

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The Dart Underground service is considered the most likely to go ahead in the future.
The Dart Underground service is considered the most likely to go ahead in the future.

THE Government has admitted more than €200m will have been wasted if shelved plans for major transport projects in Dublin are not revived.

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And even if the multi-billion euro projects – Metro North, Metro West and DART Underground – do go ahead, officials say almost €34m of what has already been spent will have "no value going forward".

The admission was made in briefing documents prepared for TDs by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

The projects were shelved by the Government in 2011 due to the economic downturn.

Documents prepared for the Dail's Public Accounts Committee outline more than €228m in spending on the three projects up to December of last year.

Most of the money, some €165.4m, was spent in preparation for Metro North, a 16.5km light rail line that would link St Stephen's Green with Dublin Airport and Swords.

Of this, more than €20.6m was spent on legal, financial and commercial advisers.

Some €60m was spent on "enabling works", which would have included preparing certain areas for the construction of the line.

The department said 13 properties bought up by the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) at a cost of €25.7m along the proposed Metro North line have now slumped in value to just €10m.

Ten of these are occupied or let, with a total monthly rental income of €12,000. A further property is on the market for letting, while the remaining two would require substantial investment to bring them up to letting standard.

The department said €31.3m of the money spent to date would "have no value going forward" if Metro North is not completed and that the remaining costs only "having value" if the project progresses.

Costs for Metro West, a 25km line which would run from Tallaght to Dardistown, near Dublin Airport, were €18.7m up to the end of last year, the department said.

Planning

The bulk of this, almost €10.2m, was spent on railway order preparation, which is the process of seeking planning permission from An Bord Pleanala.

No property was bought by the RPA for this light rail line.

The department estimated €2.7m of the money spent to date on Metro West had "no value going forward". The remainder would have value, it said, if the project proceeded.

"The full costs of these projects will have no value; and no residual values, beyond the €10m in property values relating to Metro North, will arise in the event that the projects do not progress in the future," the department said.

While planning permission has already been secured for Metro North, the RPA did not make a planning application for Metro West.

The planning for Metro North runs out in 2020 and the RPA may have to submit another application if progress is not made on the line before then.

The department said if DART Underground proceeds as originally planned, none of the €44.2m spent on it to date could be deemed as not having value.

It would be a 7.6km line connecting Connolly and Heuston stations and integrating all suburban rail lines in the capital.

Most of the money spent on it to date, some €20.1m, went on its design. Consultants were paid almost €4.7m.

It is understood that of the three projects, DART Underground is the most likely to proceed at present.

Irish Independent

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