Written Answers. - Rail Network.

Joe Costello

Question:

109 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Transport the contractual completion date for the three Luas lines; if it is expected that these dates will be met; if all the funding is in place to allow the lines to commence operation when completed; the final estimated cost of the project; the way in which this compares, in each case, with the orig inal estimates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2733/03]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

148 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Transport when Luas will be up and running for services to the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2639/03]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 109 and 148 together.

Construction of the two Luas lines from Tallaght to Connolly Station (lines A and C) and from Sandyford to St. Stephen's Green (line B) is progressing and significant milestones for the project have already been achieved. The depot at Red Cow is now complete and the 26 trams for the Tallaght line have been delivered. Construction of the Sandyford depot is complete, fitting out will begin shortly and the 14 trams for this line will begin arriving in the coming weeks. Almost all enabling works, such as utilities diversions and bridge building are complete and the land and property acquisitions programme is well advanced. As of now, over 11 kilometres of track have been laid and the test tracks at Red Cow and at Sandyford are in place.

Responsibility for the day to day management of the Luas project rests with the Railway Procurement Agency and the detail of individual contracts is a matter for the agency. I understand from the RPA, however, that the contractual completion dates for both lines will not be met on time and that the contractor involved has indicated that a 16 week delay can be expected. Accordingly, the RPA is in negotiation with the contractor as regards the consequences of these delays. This means that the Tallaght to Connolly Station line will be completed in February 2004 and the Sandyford to St. Stephens Green line in April 2004. A period of up to three months will be required following these dates for testing, commissioning and general safety checking before passenger services commence. I have conveyed my concerns about the delays to the RPA and I have asked that all of the necessary steps are taken to ensure that services commence at the earliest possible date.

The initial budget submitted to the Department by CIE for the project was €466 million in 1999 prices, based on preliminary estimates. This budget was subsequently revised in February 2001 to €675 million to take account of actual competition tender prices received, reflecting high inflation in the construction sector and changes to the scope of the project, including the ramp at Connolly Station and the provision for upgrading line B to metro status. Capital funding for construction of the lines, estimated currently at €691 million, is in place and the RPA have also made provision for risk.