Written Answers. - Rail Services.

Dan Boyle

Question:

98 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Transport when he expects to present the RPA's business case proposal for the first stage of the Dublin Metro; and when a decision can be expected from the Cabinet on the proposal. [2684/03]

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

114 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Transport the Government's proposal for a rail link to Dublin Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2735/03]

Joe Costello

Question:

129 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Transport if the Government intends to proceed with the planned metro system for Dublin; the anticipated dates for the start of construction and operation; the estimated cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2734/03]

Seymour Crawford

Question:

138 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Transport if he has satisfied himself that he can deliver the Dublin metro by 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2631/03]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

146 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport if he will report on the public consultation which has taken place in respect of possible routes for the proposed metro; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2728/03]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 98, 114, 129, 138 and 146 together.

Last year, the Government agreed that the development of the Dublin metro should be undertaken on a phased basis and as a public private partnership. It also decided that a link from the city centre to Dublin Airport was to be included in phase one. Since then, the Railway Procurement Agency has concentrated its work on developing proposals for this phase. A preliminary public consultation has taken place and a prequalification exercise for potential bidders was launched by the RPA in mid-2002.

In November 2002, my Department received the outline business case for phase one from the RPA. More recently, Iarnród Éireann submitted preliminary proposals for a heavy rail link to Dublin Airport by extending a spur either from the Maynooth line or the northern suburban line. Following completion of the evaluation of the Metro outline business case and the Iarnród Éireann proposals by my Department in the coming weeks, I intend to bring proposals to the Government. The outline business case put forward for the metro includes cost benefit analyses, a financing model, system options, the estimated cost over the lifetime of the project and the estimated timescales involved.

Until a decision is taken by Government, it would be premature to anticipate costs and timescales. The costs involved will be determined by a number of factors including the route alignment chosen and the structure of the PPP. Evidence of interest shown to date suggests that a very competitive tendering process can be expected and this, of course, will also influence the costs. Commencement of work on the project will also be influenced by factors such as: public consultation on the route alignment selected; negotiation and conclusion of the PPP contract; and the independent public inquiry required under legislation before the railway order granting planning permission for any major railway works can be granted. These issues will not arise until after Government has considered my proposals.