"Acting on the advice of the National Transport Authority (NTA), I have instructed the Railway Procurement Agency to withdraw its application for a Railway Order from An Bord Pleanála’,” he said. “From this weekend, I have suspended all planning works for Metro West and the An Bord Pleanála oral hearing which was due to commence next month will now not proceed.”
Metro West was to be procured as a Public Private Partnership (PPP). However, a significant Exchequer contribution would also have been required. “The successful awarding of a major PPP contract involving private funding is challenging at any time but particularly in current circumstances,” he said. “No major PPP project has secured funding since the financial crisis began three years ago. Until financial credibility is restored, the international debt funding market will be reluctant to lend funds to finance projects in Ireland, the repayment of which is ultimately dependant on the State. Moreover, the Exchequer will not be able to make its contribution to the cost in the foreseeable future.”
Metro West has always been considered a long-term project, he added, and many of the new communities that it would serve have not materialised due to the collapse in home building.
“This does not mean that Metro West has been cancelled. However, with very limited funding available for capital projects over the next few years, I did not consider it to be a good use of taxpayers’ money to advance Metro West any further through the planning process, as I do not know when we will be able to build it,” added Mr Varadkar. “By the time we are able to build, it’s likely that planning and environmental laws will have changed and railway technology will be different. So we would then have to go back over it all over again anyway. Metro West will be examined again at a future stage when the country’s finances have improved.
“Meanwhile, the Government is considering which, if any, rail infrastructure projects will proceed as part of the review of capital spending.”