Tuesday, 13 March 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Following the comprehensive review of capital expenditure carried out in 2011 and against the background of new funding realities a decision was taken to defer the Metro North project together with a number of other proposed new projects. The main priority to 2016 is to protect investment made to date and to maintain safety standards.
The revised capital programme for transport is set out in Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2012-2016 Medium Term Exchequer Framework published in November 2011. While Metro North was being procured as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) it also required a significant Exchequer contribution to support the PPP. This Exchequer contribution is not affordable within the funding envelope now available for transport projects to 2016. In addition, the successful awarding of a major PPP contract involving private funding is challenging at any time but is particularly challenging in current circumstances.
Metro North is postponed, not cancelled. It will be reviewed in advance of the next capital programme which will be drawn up in 2015 to cover the period from 2016 onwards. The project remains a key element of the overall integration strategy for the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) and is included in the new National Transport Authority (NTA) Draft Transport Strategy for the GDA to 2030.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The Dart Underground PPP was cancelled in December 2010 arising from decisions by the previous Government in the context of the reductions in spending under the then National Recover Plan. I note with interest that this decision was condemned by the Deputy’ party at its recent Ard Fheis. Unfortunately DART Underground which was to be procured as a PPP with significant Exchequer support is not currently affordable given the level of resources available for investment. Moreover the successful awarding of a major PPP project is challenging at any time but is particularly challenging in current circumstances.
The project will be reviewed again in 2015 in advance of the next capital plan from 2016. It remains a key element of the overall transport integration strategy and would deliver a quantum improvement in rail accessibility to the city centre with benefits for each of the four rail corridors radiating from the city centre. Dart Underground is included as a key project in the National Transport Authority’s Draft Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) to 2030.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Luas Broombridge (BXD) has been included in the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Plan to 2016 on the basis that it will be affordable and will deliver benefits by creating a link between the existing LUAS Red and Green lines, extending the network through the city centre to Grangegorman, Phibsborough and Cabra. It will also integrate with rail services on the Maynooth and Dunboyne lines as well as Quality Bus Corridor cross city/city centre bus services. The Business Case is strong and it is projected to operate without any operating subsidy. Luas BXD will result in up to 10 million extra trips on the Luas network, exploiting the true value in the investment made to date in Luas infrastructure. The Railway Order application for this project was submitted to An Bord Pleanála (APB) in June 2010 and the oral hearing for the scheme concluded in April 2011. On 3rd February 2012 ABP wrote to the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) requesting additional information in relation to the interaction with the proposed Metro North and Dart Underground projects and seeking a response by 30th March 2012. ABP have also indicated that they will undertake an independent review of alternatives to the overhead cable system in the city centre. Key decisions and actions which will determine the construction start date must await the outcome of the planning process.
661. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his policy on the procurement of public service obligation contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14088/12]
Under EU law and the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008, as amended, existing public service obligation (PSO) bus services can be procured by the National Transport Authority (NTA) through direct award contracts and any other new subvented services must be procured by way of open tendering.
At the expiry of the current 5 year direct award contracts for the provision of PSO services with Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann the NTA have discretion to renew, modify or terminate the direct award provision of bus services following a consultation process with interested parties under which the NTA is obliged to justify its approach.
The NTA published, in November 2010, new Guidelines for the licensing of public bus services which set out the basis for a reformed licensing system for commercial bus passenger services in the State. The Guidelines identify commercial bus passenger services as a key part of public transport services in the State.
In accordance with the commitment in the Programme for Government to explore the benefit to the public transport passenger of more diverse bus service provision, I will be consulting with my Ministerial colleagues soon on the future options for procurement of PSO bus services.
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