Nicola Cooke of the Sunday Business Post writes:
The operator chosen to run the planned Metro North system in Dublin will forfeit an annual fee of tens of millions of euro if it does not achieve the highest standards in the world in key areas such as passenger numbers, punctuality and breakdowns.
Documents sent to the four consortiums bidding to build and operate the 17-kilometre line from St Stephen’s Green to Swords specify that the network operator must achieve a minimum 85 per cent target across all key performance indicators, or its income for the year will be withheld. Industry sources said this would be the highest standard in the world for any new metro.
It is envisaged that up to 8,000 passengers will initially use the service in each direction per hour, but the specified requirement for Metro North is a capacity of up to 22,000 passengers per direction per hour.
The inclusion of shops or newsagents in some stations on the route is being debated. The tender documents also include specifications for the metro platforms and tram lengths. The Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) wants platforms of 98 metres and trams that can run up to 90 metres. While the average tram carriage is 32 metres long, operators could opt to connect two or more 32-metre carriages – or two 45-metre tram carriages – for a higher capacity.
The metro carriages will be the same width as the existing Luas tram carriages at 2.4 metres, which means that the two types of carriages can be interchangeable. Tunnelling costs will also be less expensive than for wider trams.
Most metro systems operate two tracks in a single tunnel, but the Metro North will be built as two tunnels, similar to the Port Tunnel. While this is more expensive, it will mean that the whole network would not have to be shut down in the event of a fire or accident.
Recent metro systems in cities in Germany and France have cost about €35 million per kilometre built underground and €20 million per kilometre over ground. This does not include the cost of land purchase, operator costs or the rolling stock of ticketing systems.
Estimates for the total cost of Metro North – which has ten kilometres underground and seven kilometres over ground – range from €3 billion to €5 billion.