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Sunday 18 February 2018

Irish Rail paid €80,000 for report on scrapped new line

Paul Melia

IARNROD Eireann spent €80,000 just six months ago updating a 20-year-old plan to extend the DART line to Dublin Airport.

The money was spent in the hope that the Government would decide to build the rail spur over the next five years -- but the plan was rejected last week for not being good value for money.

The company paid the money to AECOM and Goodbody Economic Consultants after Transport Minister Leo Varadkar requested information on whether the DART line could be extended.

The consultants updated the original 1991 plan to include information on the likely number of passengers who would use the line and setting out where houses had been built in the intervening 20 years.

The project would have involved building a 6.5km spur just after Clongriffin DART station to the airport, and would have cost €200m.

Trains would run every 15 minutes, and the company claimed there would be no impact on existing services.

But despite producing an updated business case, the plan was axed last week in the capital spending review.

Just one rail project will go ahead up to 2017, the link-up of Dublin's Luas lines, which will cost €270m.

An Iarnrod Eireann spokesman said the original plan was updated because Mr Varadkar had sought more detail. "We thought the correct thing was to have the most accurate information," he said.

"Dublin in 1991 is not Dublin in 2011. A lot has changed. It also had to take account of feeding into the rail system and dealing with travel patterns that are utterly transformed."

The review was ordered last April as the government began a comprehensive review of its spending plans up to 2017.

It is understood the review was a 'desktop' exercise, meaning that consultants completed the work in their offices. Sources said a complete business case could have cost up to €250,000.

Mr Varadkar said the project was rejected because it would not have offered good value for money. "DART Airport was assessed as a potential project but it doesn't give the value of BXD (Luas link-up),"he said.

"It wouldn't carry as many passengers and would impact on services."

The National Transport Authority, which advises the minister, has said that although the project offered a rail link to the airport, it did not provide additional public transport services for Swords and other parts of the north city.

Irish Independent

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