Written Answers. - Rail Services.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

299 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport if he will report on his recent visit to Madrid and his subsequent meeting with a company (details supplied); the lesson he learned from their experience; and the way in which these will influence how he intends to proceed with a metro line to Dublin Airport. [19351/03]

I visited Madrid in March last to see and hear, at first hand, the approach that the authorities there are taking to the construction of their transport infrastructure. The Madrid authorities are undertaking a significant investment programme involving roads, metro and a second terminal at Barajas Airport. Reports to me suggested that the cost effectiveness of these projects and timescale in which they are being delivered were worthy of examination.

In addition to having very interesting and fruitful discussions with my counterpart from the Spanish Government, I also met with public and private bodies, including representatives of the State, regional and local authorities. I was impressed with the short delivery time that has been achieved in Madrid for major infrastructure projects and with the comparatively low outturn costs that were quoted to me.

Following on my visit, a delegation from my Department and the RPA made a visit to Madrid to establish in detail, the differences in costs, timescales and the decision making and regulatory environment between the Madrid and Dublin metro projects. While there are significant differences in the cost of labour and materials, other factors such as 24 hour tunnelling, single bore tunnelling such as used throughout Spain and France and simplified station design have the potential to reduce costs and timescales in this country.
Subsequently, Professor Manuel Melis Maynar was invited to visit Dublin and imparted his experience as chairman of Metro de Madrid to me, to the Cabinet committee on infrastructure and to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport. As a result of these exchanges, the RPA metro proposals are being reappraised to identify the scope for reducing the cost and delivery time for the metro project. In this connection, I will be bringing proposals to Government shortly.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

300 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport if he has confidence in the ability of the Railway Procurement Agency to deliver a costeffective metro in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19352/03]

Under the Transport (Rail Infrastructure) Act 2001 the Railway Procurement Agency has a statutory obligation to secure the provision of such light railway and metro railway infrastructure as I may from time to time determine.

I have confidence in the ability of the RPA to procure the proposed Dublin metro on a cost-effective basis. A competitive procurement process will determine the eventual cost of the metro to the Exchequer as distinct from estimated costs at this early stage of the process. The level and quality of the international interest in the competition for the metro project, as proven by the 18 companies which have pre-qualified for the competition also supports my view on this matter as potential bidders would not engage in the lengthy and expensive process without having confidence in the RPA.

Furthermore, during his recent visit, Professor Melis Maynar, the President of Metro de Madrid, which has been responsible for the delivery of over 100 kilometres of new metro in Madrid in the past eight years has commented very favourably on the quality and ability of the Irish engineers involved in this and other projects.

My Department is currently finalising its evaluation of the RPAs recommendations on how the PPP procurement of the first metro line should proceed and I will be bringing proposals to the Government shortly.