Tuesday, 11 March 2003
Dáil Eireann Debate
132. Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the original estimated cost of building the Dublin Port tunnel; the associated rate of return then projected on the investment; the method of calculating said rate of return; the contract price for the construction of the tunnel; the variation in the contract price on the original estimate and explanations for same; the associated rate of return on the investment as represented by the contract price; the current contract completion cost; the reason for variations on the original contract price; the associated rate of return on the investment as represented by the current contract completion cost; the total cost of tunnel completion including design compliance, construction supervision costs, and public consultation and information costs; the associated rate of return on the investment as represented by the total completion cost; the implications of subsidence issues at the Fairview rail crossing for construction costs and completion date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7397/03]
Mr. Brennan: The estimated costs, tender price and predicted completion date for the Dublin Port tunnel together with the subsidence issues at Fairview are matters for the National Roads Authority and Dublin City Council. However, I am informed by the NRA that the Dublin Transportation Initiative in its final report, dated 1994, identified a tunnel from Whitehall to Dublin Port as the preferred option for resolving Dublin Port access problems. The estimated cost of this proposal, which was a single bore tunnel only, was €132 million. The Dublin Port tunnel developed from this proposal. However, the current tunnel is very different from that originally set out in the DTI strategy. It is, for example, a twin bore instead of a single bore, it extends to Santry instead of Whitehall, and is much deeper where it passes under houses.
The original tender price for construction was €449 million in June 2000. Together with land and property compensation, supervision costs and other miscellaneous costs, the current estimated all-in cost of the current project is €625 million. The estimated completion date is early 2005.
The National Roads Authority has overall responsibility for the planning and supervision of works for the construction and maintenance of national roads. In particular, it supervises the award of major road contracts by individual road authorities against relevant public procurement criteria including economic advantage to the public sector. In this context, all major road projects, including the port tunnel project, are subject to cost-benefit analysis and to assessment and evaluation at relevant stages, in accordance with the Department of Finance guidelines on the appraisal and management of capital projects. The port tunnel project at all stages satisfied these requirements.
As regards the subsidence issues referred to by the Deputy, on Monday 3 March, Iarnród Éireann instructed the port tunnel contractors to cease all tunnelling works under the railway at Fairview, following two incidents which occurred during the construction of temporary supports at the site. These temporary supports are being constructed beneath the railway line to enable permanent works to follow with the construction of the tunnel itself.
It is important to note that Iarnród Éireann has confirmed that the two incidents, on 23 February  and 1 March, did not pose a danger to railway operations. The incidents related to the failure of a supporting beam in a pilot tunnel and also to the slippage of about five cubic metres of material in a header tunnel. These incidents are being investigated by the contractors, Dublin City Council, Iarnród Éireann and their advisers.
Ms Shortall: I asked the Minister a detailed question and gave the required notice for it. I am disappointed he has not answered it in full. I realise there were changes at the start when the project went from a single bore to a twin bore tunnel and moved from Whitehall to Santry. Given the final line and shape of the tunnel, what was the original estimate for that tunnel? What is the variation between that and the final contract price? In both cases, what cost-benefit analysis was undertaken and who carried it out? What was the projected rate of return in each scenario?
Mr. Brennan: The Deputy is correct in the sense that it is increasingly important to compare like with like in regard to big projects, and I am having difficulty trying to do that with regard to many projects. Some figures include property purchase and CPO costs while others do not.
With regard to the port tunnel, the figure that should be compared to the estimated outturn of €625 million is the original tender price, including a view at that time of all the add-ons, which comes to €533 million. The original all-in price of the finally settled on project, after all the issues to do with different size bores were considered, was €533 million. The estimated outturn is now €625 million and the completion date will be early 2005.
I do not know who carried out the cost-benefit analysis but I will find that out for the Deputy. I can supply the economic rate of return in regard to those economic analyses. The construction is well under way.
Ms Shortall: The details are in the question, which the Minister has had for the past four days. Will he look in his file to see if he has the figures I have requested? We are talking about the original estimate, which was only in the region of €180 million, compared to a final contract price of €625 million.
Mr. Brennan: We are not talking about figures thrown around before formal tenders were received. Once formal tenders were received and settled on, the figure was €533 million. The comparable figure now is €625 million. The analysis, based on 1997 prices, indicated a benefit-to-cost ratio of 3:5 and an internal rate of return of 14.8%. Both of these figure indicate a very robust economic performance.
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