16                                                                                                   The Property Valuer  ...
Winter 2010                                                                                                               ...
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Property valuer-article-the-future-of-flagship-dublin-rail-projects-still-in-doubt

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The future of flagship Dublin rail projects still in doubt – article in Property Valuer magazine December 2010

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Property valuer-article-the-future-of-flagship-dublin-rail-projects-still-in-doubt

  1. 1. 16 The Property Valuer T h e f u t u re o f f l a g s h i p D u b l i n r a i l p ro j e c t s still in doubtWith work on Metro North still scheduled to start in 2012, but However, the current crisis in government finances may beDART Underground to be postponed due to cutbacks identified viewed as an opportunity to take stock of the strategic andin the Government’s National Recovery Plan, the opportunity economic benefits of both projects. With the conditionsmust be grasped to re-evaluate the relative merits of both attached to the recent granting of the Railway Order by theprojects writes Alice Charles of Planning and Transportation Board, there is evidence to suggest that the timescales for bothConsultants Colin Buchanan. projects could converge over the coming years.The current ”‘first up best dressed” position taken by the The Board’s decision in respect of Metro North to exclude theGovernment in light of Metro North recently receiving a depot, stop and park and ride facility at Belinstown, the stop atRailway Order from an Bord Pleanála, is another example of the Lissenhall and to seek the relocation of the proposed depot tostate failing to strategically plan and effectively evaluate public Dardistown, south of the Airport (presumed eventually to be atransport infrastructure provision in the Capital. shared facility in the event of the development of Metro West) allows breathing space in which the DART UndergroundAs confirmed by Budget 2011, Metro North will proceed to proposal has the potential to reach an enabling works stage‘advance works’ stage next year, but is still subject to final within a broadly similar timeframe.Cabinet funding approval. The DART Underground projectwill proceed through the planning phase but will have no The shortening of the Metro North route, via the axing of partsfunding allocated for any construction or enabling works phases of the proposed commuter catchment, must influencebefore 2014. assumptions made pertaining to overall passenger numbers contained within the project’s Redacted Business Case publishedObserving the time period taken by the Board in reaching a in July 2010. Therefore the assumptions underpinning thedecision in granting permission for the Metro North Project, a project’s cost/benefit analysis should be the subject of aRailway Order for DART Underground should be forthcoming comprehensive review.in late 2011. On reaching this stage, it is now generally assumedthat the DART Underground project will then be shelved for It is evident from the decision of the Board that it hadtwo to three years on foot of current exchequer difficulties. reservations about the ability of the route, as proposed, to
  2. 2. Winter 2010 17function effectively as a rapid transit service for Airport users at and Heuston station and the identification of Connolly stationpeak hours if the line extended beyond Swords. Assumptions as a location for medium-high rise building clusters.regarding the potential development of lands and thesubsequent economic benefits accruing to the Metro North Moving out from central Dublin, the potential benefits areEconomic Corridor included in its Business Case must also be evident from delivering a large improvement in rail accessibilitycalled into question. to the city centre from a wide catchment area as there will be benefits for each of the four rail corridors radiating from the cityThe potential to regroup and fine-tune the whole Project should centre.also be viewed in the context of the forthcoming Transport The positive effects on all existing services, the potential forInfrastructure Ireland Bill 2011, which makes legislative greater modal interchange across all forms of public transportprovision for the merger of the National Roads Authority and and the far greater passenger capacity deliverable for athe Railway Procurement Agency. significantly lower capital outlay than that of Metro North, should be the key influencing factors on any decision to be takenIn combination, these factors have the potential to allow for a on progressing major rail projects by the incomingmore focussed strategic review of all proposed rail projects in administration in the Spring of 2011.the Greater Dublin Area and their relative merits. In an idealscenario all major public transport With Budget 2011 inevitablyprojects should proceed in containing little to cheer abouttandem, but in the event that beyond vague commitments toprioritisation of projects is capital investment in publicrequired, there is a strong case for transport, the opportunity shouldDART Underground becoming be grasped to implement a fullthe primary investment focus from strategic review of the medium2013 onwards. term objectives of DART Underground, Metro North andThe call for the effective mooted extensions to the Luasprioritisation of DART network, in order to effectivelyUnderground and other connective Light Rail projects over the commit what limited exchequerstandalone Metro North as envisaged by the current resources will be available over the next four years to advancingGovernment stance, is echoed by a recent Mid-Term review of each respective project to its appropriate milestone while wethe Transport 21 Programme undertaken on behalf of the await an upturn in the state’s economic fortunes.Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport by ProfessorAustin Smyth, a leading UK based Transport Consultant. This A ‘catch-up’ approach should be employed for 2011/2012 to allow DART Underground to reach a similar footing to Metroreport states that under current economic conditions North in the project delivery process. This would allow for a re-and Government funding constraints, priority needs to be given examination of the proposed funding mechanisms that are toin the short-term to seeking to maximise economic growth by be employed by both the RPA and Iarnród Éireann under theensuring construction of DART Underground and the Luas Public Private Partnership model.Cross-City BXD line as centrepieces of a conurbation-wide railnetwork. Budget 2011 has flagged that the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) is willing to invest in Irish infrastructure assetsThis report emphasises the superior Business Case and Wider on a commercial basis in partnership with third partyEconomic Benefits inherent in DART Underground. It institutional investors. The Government has committed toconsiders the project to be the key to unlocking capacity on finding opportunities for the NPRF and other private investors.other routes and if necessary by other modes, which is an With the above in mind, it would prove prudent for all majorintrinsic element of the project. rail projects to be allowed to reach the same stage of implementation over the next 18 months, so that a criticalThe Business case for Dart Underground identifies the project as appraisal of all capital investment in public transport may behaving ‘exceptional’ benefits in relation to its costs if land use undertaken to shape the distribution of what limited fundingpolicies complement the application process. This should be will be available in a manner not shown in the Transport 21viewed in the context of the recently adopted Dublin City investment programme.Development Plan 2011-2017, in particular the potential withinthe Plan to deliver revised statutory land use plans for the key Alice Charles is an Associate Director Planner in Colin Buchanan’seastern and western poles of the interconnector at the Docklands Dublin Office. www.colinbuchanan.com

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