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Transport 21 - The Real Costs

As long time observers of major infrastructural projects Rail Users Ireland has access to costing details for most projects. Government thinks hiding the price of individual project in some way is going to lead to lower costs its simply a way of hiding from overspends. What is needed is openness and transparency.

This page will be the only independent source of costing information available to the general public. Think of it as the Transport 21 cost clearing house. As time passes we will be able to fill in all the costs. This page was last updated November 17 2007


Greater Dublin Region

Outside Dublin

Other Non Rail


Iarnród Éireann Dublin€3.5 billion
Iarnród Éireann Regional€1.3 billion
Metro€6 billion
Luas€1.1 billion
Other€1.5 billion
Cost Inflation€2 billion

That gives us a total of €15.4 billion which would appear to be the figure we are looking for, the stated budget being €16 billion. The cost estimates in the majority case date from 2002-2005, allowing for average increase in costs of 4% pa, over 10 years is nearly 42%. On average it would be 16% if the project started place in year 4, some start earlier some start later so 16% is a rough estimate and gives us €2 billion. The €700 million left account for both a buffer to cover for overspends and also for those projects which have not been made public.

Clearly we do not have access to the complete list of all projects that are within Transport 21 and we accept that this is not the complete list. Should any government agency, transport operator or private enterprise involved in the 10 year plan feel the figures we present to be inaccurate (or that a project has been omitted) we welcome and we will update our page accordingly subject to the details being made available. All correspondence will be dealt with in strict confidence. Remember its in the interests of all that the costings are known we the taxpayers have a basic right to know where our money is spent.

All these figures are provided in good faith and carry no guarantee, errors and omissions we attribute to the Department of Finance and Department of Transport for there point blank refusal to release any meaningful details which would enable us to provide concrete numbers. Effort is made to reference the source of all figures where possible. Once again we call on the Department of Transport to come clean and make the full details available.

Public Private Partnerships

There is significant involvement of the private sector in the Transport 21 plan. The nature of involvement can be broken into three distinct groups:

  • Developer contributes to the construction cost but thereafter has no connection with the project. This typically would be in the form of a development levee commonly known as a section 49 where the developer pays a fixed amount for each type of unit they build. The developer in return has a much more desirable property which will be easier to sell and may seek to charge a higher price based on the presence of high quality public transport. Cork Midleton, Sandyford Cherrywood and Connolly Point Depot are all projects where this approach is used.
  • The second type is where the private sector is actively involved in the design and construction of the infrastructure and once completed operate the asset, the Metro for instance under concession for 20-25 years and in doing so receive an availability payment from government. This payment is conditional on meeting service requirements laid down failure to do so leads to reduction or withdrawal of payment. These requirements and payment levels are set before construction begins the onus being on the private company or consortium to deliver as planned.
  • The third type is where the private sector is simply handed an asset to operate, thus is known as a franchise, Luas being an example. Subject to the profitability of the service the government may seek a premium from the operator or may subsidise the operator if the service is unprofitable. This is decided at the contract stage and is a function of the franchise length and expected demand. This is detailed in a subsidy profile which indicates the payments each year during the franchise.

For the purposes of the 10 year plan and these costings we do not consider the source of funds and instead concentrate on the sum total spent. It should be noted Iarnród Éireann's projects will be funded in the majority by the exchequer (though some stations will be paid for by developers) while the Luas projects will have significant private private contributions, up to 50%. The Metro is likely to be a full blown privately funded project.

Greater Dublin Region Rail

Maximising use of existing network

Spencer Dock Station€30 million
Kildare Route Project€450 million
Stations * 4€20 million
Turnback siding in Malahide€40 million
DASH Phase Two€75 million
Stabling Siding/Depot Expansion€40 million

Total €700 million, this is the figure Iarnród Éireann have quoted in the past[1,19]. Of this DASH phase one proceeds these works is almost complete and is under budget. 36 additional railcars are being delivered currently.

Reopened lines

The only proposed reopening is that of the Clonsilla Navan line in two separate sections, Clonsilla Pace €156[2] and Pace Navan €300. Pace Navan does not incorporate rolling stock costs which are dealt with elsewhere.

Total €456 million.

Interconnector Tunnel

€1.3 billion[1,19] for a twin track single bore tunnel starting in Inchicore with stations under Heuston station, High Street, St Stephen's Green, Pearse and Spencer Dock.


€300 million to allow for Dublin Hazelhatch, Dublin Maynooth/Dunboyne/Navan, Malahide Balbriggan and Dublin City area. During the other projects the majority of the civil works in preparation of electrification will take place.

Rolling Stock

€700 million to include 260 new coaches and to allow for mid life refurbishment of existing fleet.

Additional Infrastructure Costs

Need an additional depot as well as minor infrastructural improvements to maximise capacity €50 million.

Total Dublin Rail

€3.5 billion


  • Line C1 - Connolly to Point Depot 2008, 50/50 private/state €54 million[18]
  • Line BX - Link both lines 2008, €80-100 million[15]
  • Line B1 - Sandyford to Cherrywood 2010, €190 million, 50/50 private/state
  • Line A1 - Tallaght Citywest 2010, € €80-100 million, 50/50 private/state[22]
  • Line F - Dublin Lucan by 2013, €300 million, PPP project[17]
  • Line D - Liffey Junction by 2012, €150 million
  • Line B2 - Cherrywood Bray by 2015, €200 million, some indications of private funding

Total Luas costs

Approximately €1.1 billion.


Metro North

Route 3A/B from Stephen's Green to Swords via Dublin Airport

Lissenhall - Seatown - Swords - Nevinstown - Airport - Metropark - Ballymun - Santry Demesne -Dublin City University - Griffith Avenue - Drumcondra - Mater - O'Connell Bridge - St Stephen's Green.

Metro West

Semi orbital route leaving the airport metro at Ballymun turning to Blanchardstown, Adamstown, Poterstown, Liffey Valley, Clondalkin, Kishogue and Tallaght (Belgard Rd)

Total Metro costs

This is the greatest unknown, all kinds of cost estimates have been presented and permission to publish even more has been prevented[16], quotes of €4.881 billion, €1.72 billion, €1.224 billion have been made public with respect to St Stephen's Green Airport[7]. What has not been made clear is the turnkey cost the total spend required until the day the full system carries its first passengers. Previously a heavy cost cutting exercise was undertaken to slim down the proposed St Stephen's Green Airport Metro. The decisions made during this process made the provision of Metro West (previously referred to as orbital metro) all but impossible as insufficient capacity would be available[14]. This has been acknowledged by the proposal to use 90m long trains a significant step up from the original proposal of 40-50m. This has a knock on effect on all other specification items as stations which need to be larger, more substations to supply the higher power demand, enlarged depot facilities. This in turn will force costs upwards.

An interesting question is that TBM residual values. Tunnel boring machines are quite expensive and where possible they are sold for reuse elsewhere. The RPA included this in there cost estimates however it is becoming clear the boring machines will be left in the ground.

The Metro will be a full PPP project according to answers given recently to parliamentary questions[17]

€6 billion ??

Further Studies

While not offically announced funding exists for further studies into at least the following projects

  • Liffey Junction to Finglas to Metro West, Luas Line D1
  • Killbarrack to Ballymun to Metro North/West Metro
  • St Stephen's Green to Harolds Cross to Tallaght, Metro

Outside Dublin


The Cork Midleton project has been announced yet again. The scope of what is planned in Cork is unclear but it appears to include a number of additional stations between Mallow and Cork.

The cost of reopening Cork Midleton was placed a 13.9 million IEP at 1999 prices[3], being roughly €25 million. However significant investment is required to modernise the Kent station area in Cork including resignaling of the station area and the line to Cobh.

It appears option D1 from the A Strategic Review of the Cork Suburban Rail Network[3] report has been chosen which was quoted as 33.1 million IEP at 1999 prices. Iarnród Éireann have quoted €90 million in more recent times[8].


Commuter services in Galway at bare minimum will require a new station at Oranmore and a new passing loop which would cost approximately €6 million.

Reinstatement of double track Galway Athenry would cost approximately €40 million, however a full engineering survey would be required to confirm the exact engineering work which would be required. A full blown commuter service would require double track from Galway to Athenry and provision of several extra stations. Total all in costs for infrastructure is approximately €50 million. Rolling stock would be in addition to this figure. However in light of electrification in Dublin diesel powered rolling stock may be available at no cost.

A full report is available

Western Rail Corridor

Ennis Athenry€74.7
Atherny Tuam€34.7
Tuam Claremorris€58.9

All costs taken from the McCann report[3]

These figures do not include rolling stock. The scope and cost of track works such as the number of crossing loops and civil works required at stations on the route to bring them up to modern accessibility standards is not clear and will add further costs. Limerick Ennis would require new signalling also.

However Iarnród Éireann have since revised costs for the Ennis Athenry phase €106 million [24,25]

While the McCann report indicated €168.3 million plus rolling stock costs and additional infrastructure costs, based on Iarnród Éireann's revised cost, total costs could rise to over €237 million.


€112 million for 67 new intercity coaches, three sets have been so far delivered for Dublin Cork services to enter service on a phased basis from January 2006[9]. This investment was first authorised in 1999 but was delayed owing to difficulties obtaining a manufacturer at tender phase.

€262 million for 120 intercity railcars for all routes ex Heuston (except Dublin Cork). Due to arrive in 2007. This provides for the hourly/two hourly services. Contracts signed 31st January 2005[10].

€62 million for 30 intercity railcars for routes ex Connolly. This invokes an option contained within the contract for the first 120 railcars[21]. This was funded from an underspend by the NRA. Order placed 16th December 2005

€?? million for 33 intercity railcars for long distance commuuter routes ex Heuston.

Total €500 million.

Rail Safety Program

No data available but it would appear to continue the current program of upgrades and safety improvements such as level crossings bridges and so on.

  • Extension of Mini CTC to Westport, Ballina and Rosslare approximately €38 million
  • Reconstruction of Limerick Junction
  • Trackwork at Portarlington approximately €30 million[21]

Iarnród Éireann have indicated a desire to relay approximately 100 miles of track in the short to medium term. It is unclear if the relaying of the Nenagh line and the Limerick Junction Rosslare line is included or not.

Assuming this is a continuation of the rail safety program €500 million at the very most.

Port Laois

New depot for intercity fleet at a cost of €65 million. This was confirmed July 20th 2005[11].

Non Rail elements


€599 million for Quality Bus Corridors (QBCs) and traffic management[13]. This would appear to include the 70km of QBC proposed in Cork which we estimate at a cost €750,000/km to be worth €52.5 million. While QBC's are clearly public transport traffic management does is more a roads issue and thus is not strictly a public transport element though done properly it will prioritise bus and Luas over private car.

Rural Transport Initiative

€9 million per annum or a total of €90 million at today prices which allowing for increases in costs over time the real total becomes €110 million assuming 4% increase per annum.

Park and Ride

37 additional park and ride facilities in Dublin.

It would appear these park an ride facilities will be provided in the majority case at new and upgraded public transport locations. Rail Users Ireland notes the cost and design of several park and ride sites where incorporated into the first 2 Luas lines, Iarnrod Éireann have made similar provision in the Kildare Route Project as have the RPA in the Sandyford Cherrywood extension.

Similarly in Cork the Midleton line reopening and additional stations between Cork and Mallow include parking facilities.

Verdict cost of provision of additional park and ride is incorporated in the budget of Luas, rail and Metro projects.

Dublin Bus

It is widely known that Dublin Bus got very little, the promised 20 new buses are simply replacements for buses to be withdrawn and are already on site in Donnybrook and are expected to enter service on the 46A route shortly.

Standard life-cycle for a bus is little more than 10 years thus the entire fleet of approximately 1100 buses will require replacement over the next 10 years. The current standard bus used in Dublin is the ALX400 (also known as the AV class) which costs approximately 150,000 GBP.

Publication of the 2006 budget estimates suggest a total spend of €529 million on buses for Dublin alone[13]. It appears that this investment is in the medium to long term and not in the short term.

Bus Éireann

€240 million is to be spent on buses in cities outside Dublin. Interestingly no word on investment in the school bus fleet.

Total non rail

€1.5 billion


  1. Presentation to the Institute of Engineers of Ireland By Iarnród Éireann, 17 November 2004

  2. Clonsilla to M3 Interchange Railway Line Feasibility Study, January 2005

  3. A Strategic Review of the Cork Suburban Rail Network, Iarnród Éireann/Ove Arup, June 2000

  4. Report to the Minister for Transport from the Chairman of the Expert Working Group on the Western Rail Corridor, 13 May 2005

  5. Statistics Of Transport 21, 2 November 2005

  6. Córas Iompair Éireann Annual Report And Financial Statements 2004

  7. The Proposed Metro from St. Stephen's Green to Swords via Dublin Airport, for the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, O'Reilly Consultants, May 2004

  8. Transport Minister Announces Approval For New €90m Cork Commuter Rail Service, 21 May 2004

  9. New train for Cork-Dublin route delivered - beginning of transformation of Intercity fleet, 28 July 2005

  10. Largest ever order for new trains by Iarnród Éireann, 31 January 2005

  11. €65m investment in new Portlaoise train maintenance facility announced, 20 July 2005

  12. Kildare Route Project Railway Order process underway, October 2005

  13. €750m for public transport, Irish Times, 18 November 2005

  14. A Technical Briefing The Proposed Dublin Metro is Flawed, 18 March 2005

  15. On track: : Missing link will cost €100m, 23 November 2005

  16. Correspondence between the RPA and O'Reilly Consultants during the preparation of the Metro Evaluation report, April 2004

  17. Luas extension to Cherrywood & Bray, Parliamentary Questions, 9 November 2005

  18. Luas set to pull up outside the Point in €54m plan, 30 November 2005

  19. The Engineers Journal vol 59, 7 September 2005

  20. Executive summary of the strategic rail review, April 2003

  21. 30 new carriages to bring rail travel comfort in €62m deal

  22. New Luas extension to terminate at Fortunestown in west Dublin

  23. 2007 Rail Timetable

  24. Galway-to-Limerick rail link on track for 2009

  25. Rail corridor on track - Dempsey

Last Updated: November 17 2007 12:12:18
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