| 21.6°C Dublin

Wild variation in MetroLink cost estimates, as minister calls government’s own figures ‘inappropriate’

Close

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe at the launch of Dublin's MetroLink plan. Photo: Cate McCurry

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe at the launch of Dublin's MetroLink plan. Photo: Cate McCurry

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe at the launch of Dublin's MetroLink plan. Photo: Cate McCurry

Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath has said the Government’s own claim that the Dublin MetroLink will cost €9.5bn is “inappropriate” and warned it could cost more than €23bn by the time it is completed.

In a confidential warning to ministers this week, Mr McGrath said there is “considerable reputational risk” associated with the Government “ignoring” estimates that the project could cost as much as €23.39bn – a figure Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has insisted is an “extreme-case scenario”.

While Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said yesterday the overall cost could come in at just over €7bn, Mr McGrath has privately raised major concerns about the appropriateness of the Department of Transport’s contention that it will cost around €9.5bn. This is the midpoint scenario of a capital delivery cost range of €7.16bn to €12.25bn.

Minister McGrath warned Cabinet on Monday that for a project of this scale, novelty and complexity, the €9.5bn estimate is “inappropriate and does not represent the risk profile of such a project”.

He also warned that when overruns occur on comparable projects internationally, they do so on a massive scale, insisting that it is “critical to assess affordability of the higher end of the cost estimates”. He warned against proceeding with the project based on “optimistic cost and benefit forecasts”.

The confidential warning from Mr McGrath was contained in the detailed memo on the project which acknowledged that the ultimate cost of the project cannot be known until final tenders are issued. 

Mr McGrath said there is a need for greater clarity and precision on the projected costs, warning that inflation, working from home and other large projects are likely to impact the proposal.

Speaking on Newstalk yesterday, Mr Varadkar insisted the €23bn figure was an “extreme-case scenario” and added: “Nobody thinks that’s going to happen, by the way – but that’s the kind of extreme end of things.” 

Under the proposed plans, three-quarters of the cost during the construction phase will be paid for by the Exchequer, with the remainder financed by a Public Private Partnership

The Government agreed on Monday to proceed with the nearly 20km mostly underground rail project, with a planning application to be lodged in September.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

The transport link is expected to become operational between 2031 and 2034 – nearly three decades after it was first mooted in 2005.

It will serve both the city centre and Dublin Airport.

The MetroLink will be 19.4km in length, with 16 stations, and will run from Swords in North Co Dublin to Charlemont in the south city, with an end-to-end journey time of 25 minutes.

The service aims to run trains every three minutes at peak times and carry up to 20,000 passengers per hour in each direction.

Mr Ryan described MetroLink as a “megaproject” that will be accessible by more than 175,000 people by foot alone and said 250,000 jobs will be within reach of the route. He said it would be hardwired to the State’s ambition to cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than half by 2030.

“MetroLink is a once-in-a-generation project that is going to massively transform the public transport system in our capital city,” Mr Ryan said.


Most Watched





Privacy