State has lost €150m in abandoned transport projects, PAC report finds

Despite €300m investment, physical construction yet to begin on metro system for Greater Dublin Area

Nearly €150 million has been lost on abandoned projects such as the old Metro North and Metro West projects, a report by the Public Accounts Committee has found.

The report, which examines financial issues in the accounts of the Department of Transport and bodies like the National Transport Authority, found that despite overall significant investment worth around €300m, physical construction has yet to begin on a metro system for the Greater Dublin Area.

The report finds that of the €166 million invested in Metro North to the end of 2014, some €99 million is considered to be lost expenditure. Spending of €18.7 million on Metro West is also lost, as the suspended project is not included in the NDP or current NTA strategies.

Similarly, when it comes to spending on the DART Interconnector project, between €31.5 million and €33.8 million has been lost on that project.


In a key finding, the committee said that “too much time and money has been ineffectively utilised over the past two decades by successive Governments on works associated with these infrastructure projects.”

“All three projects were considered vital to connectivity and realising key economic and social benefits in the Greater Dublin Area when proposed.”

Committee chair Brian Stanley said that the PAC is “frustrated” at how long it has taken from the initial proposal for a metro system in Dublin, to the most recent date for completion.

He said that according to the most recent timelines, MetroLink will be delivered 23 years after planning permission was granted to the original Metro North project.

The PAC now wants to see a commitment that the MetroLink will be completed by 2034.

The report also highlights continued delays in publishing a new rail plan for the country.

A proposed All-Island Strategic Rail Review, which is to propose significant improvements in public transport infrastructure outside of Dublin, was originally due to be completed at the end of last year.

“However, recent correspondence from the Department indicates that publication of same has been delayed until the second half of 2023. The committee will continue to monitor relevant developments after the 2023 Dáil summer recess.”

The PAC also looked into the purchase of 24 sets of night vision goggles.

These were purchased at a cost of €527,000 in November 2015.

The cost of training for the equipment had been estimated in 2009 at €37,000 initially, in addition to running costs of €65,000 per year.

The service provider then submitted a proposal for training at a total cost of €4.1 million. A business case in March 2018 outlined the rationale for progressing with the training, and an initial payment of €1.7 million was made in November 2018 to the service provider.

The Comptroller and Auditor General said he was “not persuaded that good value for money for the taxpayer has been achieved from this expenditure.”

The special report also looked at the procurement of 18 vehicles by the Irish Coast Guard, under a contract signed in November 2015. These vehicles were acquired for just under €1.4 million between 2016 and 2020.

The report found “no evidence that a formal evaluation was ever undertaken by the Irish Coast Guard on the vehicles purchased.”

After issues were identified with the carrying ability of the vehicles, a decision was made to uprate the vehicles to a higher weight, the cost of which has not been set out but is “likely to be significant” according to the report.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times