EIB agrees to help fund cross-capital Luas link
THE European Investment Bank (EIB) has agreed in principle to provide about €163m to help finance the Luas cross-city link in Dublin.
The estimated costs of linking the red and green lines in the city centre stands at €368m.
Negotiations with the bank are expected to start in the coming days. It is hoped they will be finalised early next year.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said if funding was secured from the investment bank, it would be at a competitive rate.
"The board of the European Investment Bank has endorsed the Luas cross-city project and has agreed to provide a low interest loan to Ireland to help fund the cost of construction," the minister told RTE Radio.
"They are willing to make up roughly €163m, which is half the cost of the project.
"The general principle is that the EIB funds are about half the interest rate of the market rate."
Questioned as to whether the country could afford the cost of the initiative, Mr Varadkar said the benefits would be obvious.
"It's not just about linking the existing Luas lines or even linking the Luas to the commuter network, which it will do. It really transforms rail-based public transport in the greater Dublin area.
"It will make all sorts of journeys possible which are not possible now," he said.
"There will be 800 jobs created in construction and 60 when it's finished. It will add about 8-10 million journeys per year to the rail network. And it will take about three million car journeys off the roads."
However, the minister warned that the Luas development would not be without its issues during construction.
"There will be disruption, no doubt about that, but the city will stay open for business. We're doing everything we can to minimise the disruption" he promised.