€500m to be spent on Dublin’s Metro project before ground is broken

The various Metro projects slated to provide rapid rail service between Dublin Airport and the city center will cost up to €500m before a shovel breaks ground.

Officials from the National Transport Agency informed the Dáil Public Accounts Committee that €158m had been spent on the current Metrolink project up until the end of 2023.

The NTA’s head of transport services Hugh Creegan said that between €100m and €200m more will eventually be spent on that project before it breaks ground, in terms of surveying, planning, and other project costs.

Metro North

He has acknowledged that an additional €150m was previously spent on the predecessor to Metrolink, Metro North, a project which was canceled amid rampant cost-cutting in the aftermath of the financial crisis which emerged in the late 2000s.

PAC chair Brian Stanley described the spending as “an incredible sum of money” to outlay in advance of any physical return being gained from the project.

He was assured by both the NTA and the Department of Transport that the “costs involved with large infrastructure projects are significant”.

“We are assured that we are getting value for money,” Garret Doocey, an assistant secretary with the Department said.

Mr Doocey insisted the €150m loss on Metro North was down to a policy decision by the Government of the day, rather than any Departmental failure.

He said the loss was not the product of any lack of “governance or oversight”, which he said had been “appropriate”.

Fianna Fail’s Paul McAuliffe asked if a cost-benefit analysis had been done on the previous Metro North project.

“A full cost-benefit analysis was done on Metrolink,” Mr Doocey replied.

“They’re separate projects deputy,” he said.

Mr McAuliffe responded: “They’re not, they’re separate routes.”

The NTA’s Hugh Creegan said the immense sums involved are “what it costs to bring a project like this to fruition”, adding that the cost is “not out of kilter” in terms of similar infrastructure projects internationally.

The most recent projections for the final cost of Metrolink set a maximum outlay of €12.25billion, excluding VAT, although the rail link is not expected to go live before the middle of the next decade at the earliest.

Metrolink is the most recent iteration of a planned subway link between Dublin city center and Dublin Airport proposed in the early 2000s.

When Metrolink was first approved in its current format in 2018 its projected cost was just €3bn, with a delivery timeline of 2027.