Now that we are facing recession fully in the face it is time that we examined what rail projects are going to be green lighted, postponed or cancelled altogether.
Given the high political stakes involved we do not seriously expect the Department of Finance or Department of Transport to actually announce cancellations anywhere as it will result in Government Seats going west. Also, the Green Party, recognising the environmental benefits that rail travel bring, not to mention the very high price of petrol, will do anything to prevent the curtailment of the rail development plan.
Sadly, though, the department of finance is going to have the final say. RUI understands that in effect borrowing will be made for Metro North and also for the Interconnector. Without them, even allowing for a reduction in car usage due to rising oil prices, there is a serious danger that Dublin will become seriously and irretrievably uncompetitive and, despite cries from anywhere else, Dublin is the prime mover of our economy.
Where does that leave anything else? We understand that in effect everything else will be (apart from those projects underway) put off to 2013 when they will be reviewed at that time. The point is we do not know if this date is arbitrary or if it is the Department of Finance’s view that this date, five years hence, is been seen by them as the time by which they expect to be in a position to start off again. If so, it belies the idea that this is to be a short term crunch, they’re viewing it as 5 years.
Then again, the DoF never got their sums right during the boom, who are we to be confident they’ll get them right during the bust?
So, that’s it. All fantasy of Luas lines, 200kph to Cork, Navan Rail, WRC north of Athenry, all that is out the window till 2013, at the earliest.
Transport 21 is living up to its name. 2021 may see it finished, if at all.