I have instructed the National Transport Authority (NTA) to update the existing 2010 business case for DART Underground. I made this request as a result of the recent High Court Judgement on the DART Underground Railway Order which ruled that the period for serving Notices to Treat for the purpose of compulsory purchase of property under the Order should be 18 months rather than the 7 years set out in the Railway Order. This means that a decision on whether to proceed with DART Underground under the current Railway Order must be made by September 2015. The NTA will ensure that the new business case is based on the latest data on population, transport demand, construction costs etc and meets all the requirements of the revised public sector code for capital projects which was published last year. I have also asked the NTA to review funding options. This will include all possible sources of funds, both public and private, and will cover loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB) as well as EU grant possibilities.
As is the case with any major expenditure, the opportunity cost must also be considered. Any loan, be it from the EIB or from domestic or international financial institutions must be repaid by the Exchequer with interest and it is added to government debt. Similarly private funding options in the form of a traditional Public Private Partnership impose significant long-term liabilities on the Exchequer or on users.
I expect to have a detailed report from the NTA later this year and will then consider the options for the project having regard to the findings of the business case review including the cost and funding options. The outcome of the Governments capital expenditure review which has commenced, will also be relevant to any consideration of the affordability of this project in the short to medium term.