Visit by Spanish Delegation.

Thursday, 19 June 2003

Joint Committee on Transport Debate

First Page Previous Page Page of 3 Next Page Last Page

Chairman: Information on Eoin Ryan Zoom on Eoin Ryan I am delighted to welcome Professor Manuel Maynar Melis, director general of transportation in Madrid. He is accompanied by Mr. Ildefonso de Matías Jiménez, Mr. Ricardo Gil of Metro Madrid and Mr. José Andres Gallegos of the Spanish Embassy. They are all very welcome and I thank them for taking the time to visit us this morning.

Deputy P. Power: Information on Peter Power Zoom on Peter Power Some observers were to attend.

Chairman: Information on Eoin Ryan Zoom on Eoin Ryan They are coming in now.

Senator Browne: Information on Feargal Browne Zoom on Feargal Browne Are we to have any other business at the end of this meeting?

Chairman: Information on Eoin Ryan Zoom on Eoin Ryan We can, if the committee so wishes.

Professor Manuel Maynar Melis: I thank the Chairman for his welcome and wish the Deputies and Senators a good morning. I thank the committee for giving us time to talk about the metro. We have been walking around the city over the past few days. First, Dublin badly needs a metro system - mainly a metro system, not a light rail system. Light rail may not be enough as the population is so large. Our second impression is that it would be very easy to build a metro system in Dublin, a city that has good quality soil, wide streets and extremely competent technical engineers and managers. This means the project can be carried out quickly and at a very low cost if there is support from Parliament, as our Parliament helped us in Madrid.

I will give the committee some detailed ideas about the first line that has been proposed, although there may be small changes in the southern part of the city centre. The line is 12 km. long with only 6 km. underground. The rest is either elevated or on the surface. Six kilometres can be built in 15 months or less. A great job is being done on the Dublin Port tunnel, which we saw and studied on Monday and Tuesday. The tunnel for the metro could be built in 15 months, or 18 at the maximum. In our opinion, one boring machine should be used for one tunnel with two tracks or two boring machines if twin tunnels are preferred. I recommend that preparations be made to begin building the shafts in February so that machines can begin to drill in March. In this way the tunnels will be ready by Christmas 2005. Simultaneous work should begin on the elevated part and the surface part in January or February of next year so that the metro system will be working by Christmas 2006. If time is saved a lot of money will be saved.

In the past four years a total of 56 kilometres of tunnels have been built, plus almost 20 kilometres on the surface. There are 47 stations. This was built in 42 months. We have built 47 stations in 42 months. The Irish think we are cleverer than they are.

Senator Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Yes.

Professor Melis: No.

Senator Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Then why is the Professor here?

Professor Melis: When I was studying engineering in the US I was told that the enormous infrastructure there was built by Irish engineers. Ireland has the best engineers in the world. I do not know why the Irish cannot prove this.

The hard part of our work was in the previous four years - I will give the details later - when we built only 38 kilometres in tunnels because we had to prepare the tunnelling machines. In the most recent period we already had the machines ready so we saved one year.

First, it is important to reduce construction time. One cannot build a dam in separate parts because one has to build the foundation and then build up until the dam is finished. It is not linear but with metal systems it can be divided properly. One starts simultaneously in several places. That is the main idea and every part of the project can be finished within 36 to 42 months. There is no doubt about this. I invite the committee to come to Madrid any time, get into our test cabin and see what can be done in 42 months. We can organise this through our embassy.

It is easy to build a metro. The problem is building the first line because people worry that there will be loud noise under their houses. This is not true. To reduce the construction time, divide the project or the whole design simultaneously and award and sign the big contracts before August. This is possible and the design will be finished by Christmas. Most of the design companies and consultants will ask for many years to do the design. This is a waste of time. They need only six to eight months. Any more than this increases costs and is not useful. If the design is ready by December the construction can start in February or March of next year. The bills must be sent to Brussels, which takes about 52 days, and so on.

The trains can be ordered by November 2004 and between now and November there is time to specify the type of trains required. It took more than two years to specify the trains for the Channel Tunnel and that is one of the reasons for the long delay and financial disaster. It is improving now. The design and construction should be followed intensively. There will be no holidays in the next three years for the committee and the staff supervising the work. This is our life as engineers, otherwise we might be ballet dancers. Building a metro is a serious matter.

Chairman: Information on Eoin Ryan Zoom on Eoin Ryan We politicians are accustomed to doing without holidays.

Professor Melis: I know. The figures for Madrid show why time is important. When we finished the first extension we gained 170 million new users who saved seven minutes every day in commuting time. That is 20 million hours per year. Existing users saved three million more hours per year. That is a total of 23 million hours saved in transportation costs. The hourly cost in Madrid is €10 to €12 per hour so many millions of euros were saved and the project paid for itself in less than six years. This does not take into account the reduction in pollution and traditional traffic congestion. It is important to act immediately and have the metro system immediately.

The Paris metro was inaugurated in 1900 for the World Fair. The man who built it was a well-known engineer and character, Fulgence Beinvenue. He had worked on the railways before being put in charge of the metro. He lost his left arm in a construction accident but he built the first line, 11 kilometres and 18 stations in 20 months. He and his men had no plant and machinery but they built it, no problem. A century later what are the construction companies telling us?

Another example that may be familiar to committee members but which we sometimes forget is that the Empire State building was built in 14 months, from foundations to the opening day. Why are we talking about five or seven years for building 11 kilometres? Three engineers built the first line of the Madrid metro during the First World War, four kilometres, almost seven stations, in 27 months. I am sure Dublin will do much better.

The first extension to the Madrid metro, which I mentioned before, was built between 1995 and 1999. It was 38 kilometres, plus 18 kilometres in surface, 38 stations, and was completed in 40 months. All the companies made their proper profit, the consultants and the contractors were happy. We did not have claims because before a claim appears in a contract one sits down with the contractors and sorts it out immediately. Otherwise the claim will stay there and halt the project for one, two or three years, as happened with the Chunnel and the Jubilee Line on the London Underground. For instance, when the committee visits Madrid it will see the line to the airport, six kilometres of tunnel in downtown Madrid which was built in 25 months with no problem whatsoever.

The design should be kept simple; do not confuse the idea of a museum or beautiful buildings for the city with railway stations. One can admire a beautiful museum in Valencia or the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank building designed by Norman Foster but their aesthetic should not be used for metro stations. The Jubilee Line station designed by Sir Norman Foster, took a long time to build. In the same amount of time we built 60 stations, possibly for the same price. It is essential to simplify the design.

I would not advise that one uses the type of design used in the best station in the world, Tokyo Central Station, which is an impressive station. Beneath it there is a metro system that moves 2,500 million people per year. In Madrid we move 600 million people annually. They have such a building so that people do not get wet if it rains. It is not necessary to have a cathedral as a metro station and it is important to remember that.

We do not need any more risks. We were glad with the initial conversations with officials who told us that stations would not be built underground. It is important that all the stations are built on the surface to ensure there is no risk. It creates disruption to the city, but in Madrid everyone understood we had to move the water lines, sewers and electric lines. They understood that there would be disruption on the streets for three or four months, but it was for their benefit in that they would have a beautiful metro system. Everyone was supportive and understood that we had to divert traffic and close streets. It should not be a problem as it has been done everywhere a metro system has been built. I am sure the citizens of Dublin will understand this.

The alternative is not to disrupt anyone by building the stations underground. Then there will be problems. In the presentation, I showed the collapses in Munich and Heathrow. It happens frequently if one builds the stations underground. If one builds with the cut and cover method with a tunnelling machine, there will be no such problems. If one rejects any construction method that can cause collapse and instead use closed-face machines - the machine excavates the soil, the soil is moved into a chamber and so it can never get into the tunnel, causing collapses and killing workers——

Chairman: Information on Eoin Ryan Zoom on Eoin Ryan That is what we are doing in the port tunnel.

Professor Melis: Yes, that is correct. I am only recommending some slight modifications in the tunnelling machines that should be used for the metro system. This is similar and it is working well in this case. It is a safe method of construction and shortens claims on time. We can never provide a perfect design for tunnel construction. For example, how many soil samples will be carried out when building a tunnel? Maybe one for every 20 to 25 metres.

Senator Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris When Professor Melis says claims, what does he specifically mean?

Professor Melis: I am referring to contractor claims. Contractors always claim because the designs are never perfect. One gives certain information about an underground project, it is never complete or fully true. Only God knows what is below the ground. The only time one will know what is exactly in the tunnel is after the tunnel is built. One cannot be drilling every metre for soil samples. Besides, those tunnels are enormous. One small drill in the axis of the tunnel is not enough as it is about 15 metes wide. Five drills would be needed every metre and that is impossible.

When the Channel Tunnel was being constructed, an enormous number of soil samples were taken and there were surprises with these. When the tunnel west from Copenhagen to the mainland was being built, they had numerous soil samples. The tunnel machines there collapsed resulting in the constructors waiting for the Baltic Sea to freeze before they could salvage the machinery. Those are the dangers in these types of projects.

One must spend money on safety and be prepared for changes in design every day. One must sit with the contractors to solve the problems and continue the work. It is better to solve claims than to have the delay of going to court. If one engages good consultants and contractors it will be safe.

As in the case of the Madrid metro system, every company will want to sell the whole system from substations to the overhead lines. We recommend buying the systems separately. It will be much cheaper and better to put the system together as we did in the Madrid. Mr. de Matias was in charge of it there.

There are many alternatives in rail systems. Cities in South America and in the Middle East bought complete systems and are now desperate because they wish to expand but are locked into the existing system. They have to pay whatever price the system provider asks.

As can be seen from the Madrid example in the presentation, the platform is wide. This is important to people as it is not about beautiful stations but wide platforms, escalators and lifts. Co-ordinating the civil works and the railway equipment is always deemed impossible.

It is not the case that the civil work must be finished with clean tunnel before the electrical or track contractor can begin work. Contractors will work in unclean conditions. The tunnel is completed in one part while work on the track is being completed in another, and the overhead line can be installed at the same time. This is a much better method of construction. However, contractors and consultants do not like it. They want to finish one thing and then start the other. This should not be the case as it will lead to delays in construction.

As can be seen in the picture there is dust around the train. What is the problem with dust? Trains will run when it is raining. We do not believe that constructing a Dublin metro would be a difficult job. The soil is good and the streets are wide enough. As can be seen in the picture of a cross-section of a connection between the Dublin port tunnel there is limestone and some clay in between, the best soil for tunnel excavation. The train they will use in the metro will be very similar in diameter to that displayed in the picture. This machine’s diameter is 11 metres. If ones goes to two tubes, one will possibly have a machine that is a little smaller, and with two tunnels, it will be about six metres, or half of that. That is no problem, as Irish engineers are extremely competent.

It may be necessary to modify some laws, since apparently in Ireland one’s property goes to the centre of the earth when one owns a house. You will only have to estimate how much it will cost to take 15 metres from those properties for the metro system for the public convenience. The owner will continue to own everything to the centre of the earth except for perhaps 20 metres. We do not have that law in Spain, but it exists in Paris where, as far as we know, by law a certain price per metre of tunnel is taken from the ownership. That is fixed by Parliament, so it is possible to resolve the matter very quickly at a reasonable price.

I do not honestly think the owner can do much with that amount of soil 20 metres below the deepest basement that one can build. Of course, one always allows enough depth so that people can build any basement they desire. I am sure it will be possible to solve that problem very fast. We have seen in many contracts, not only in Ireland but in most common-law countries, many people making a living from any Government project. Many companies transfer responsibility to each other so that no one need accept it. I am sure that you can cut it immediately.

We have also had this problem in Madrid as soon as one invests a huge amount of money. The cost of this project is enormous for a normal person, so everyone wants to get a part of it. They feel that it is so much money that no one will care. We have the problem, especially with young lawyers, that every time we go under a house, there will be a dozen advisers telling the residents that they can claim and get money from the Government. Thank God, our Parliament and Government helped us, and we were able to solve all those problems. Most of the claims were absolutely unfair.

In our opinion, it can be done. Dublin can build its metro in 40 months for about €1 billion. It will depend. The people of Dublin have to live it, for without them it will not be done. It will be absolutely impossible, for the Irish common-law system is very complex. Ours, based on Roman law, is much simpler. It could be possible to open it to services at Christmas 2006, but the tunneling will have to start in February or March, though I will accept April. I will give you an example of the tunnel used for the metro in Madrid. It took 16 months for 7.5 kilometres and a station. However, many of them are even faster, taking six months for 4 kilometres. Keep the idea of half a kilometre per month.

That is how the tunnel was built. Of course, it had a very long run and it was not very easy. No stations were closed. One loses two weeks closing each station because one has to pull them. One will have the stations ready when the machine gets there. It is very easy, and I insist that members of the committee come to Madrid to see it. Trains should be ordered in November.

The Irish government have created the Railway Safety Authority, and they are “no” people. They say that they do not like things or that they are not safe. We recommend that the involvement of the Railway Safety Authority in the design and construction of the new trains and the signalling systems. When they are installed and the trains are here, they will have been approved. If the authority does not like something, it should say that during design and manufacture. Afterwards, what is the use? Two years will have been lost. It should accept responsibility rather than passing it on to someone else. That is our idea. Suppose the trains and signaling system are purchased - which is most important - and the authority says that it does not like them. What will happen? Ireland will do the same as with the Jubilee Line. For two years, they were driving the trains without a signalling system, and that is very dangerous.

Never stop the tunnelling. One will tunnel 24 hours per day, 365 days a year, as the most dangerous thing one can do in a tunnel is stop drilling. One can never stop drilling in a tunnel, for the soil will come in and there will be a collapse. I say that not as the president of a metro system but as a professor of soil mechanics. We almost had the collapse of a building in Madrid on 1 May because of a strike on 29 March when workers were withdrawn from a small tunnel which we were excavating to the street. Never stop tunnelling. Those machines should never stop, they should be kept going 24 hours a day. It is a matter of safety above all. Besides, it is much better, as those machines can dig 30 metres per day. If one person complains of the noise, his house is only 10 metres wide, so you need only compensate him for one or two days. In hospitals, it is much better. There may be some noise because of rock, but in Madrid we made no noise excavating soil. I was in the machine here and heard the noise, and it is very low. That is what we wanted to tell the committee.

Chairman: Information on Eoin Ryan Zoom on Eoin Ryan Thank you very much. We will try to have you transferred to Dublin. Madrid got David Beckham, so you can come here.

Senator Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris One can get those celebrity consultants.

Senator Dooley: Information on Tim Dooley Zoom on Tim Dooley It is a 24-hour decision.

Professor Melis: The president and the Ministers, with the Parliament’s support, made some very difficult decisions in 24 hours. For instance, moving a station or replacing one is a very important decision. They made it in 24 hours. We engineers can solve certain problems, but the important ones must be solved by the Government..

Deputy S. Power: Information on Seán Power Zoom on Seán Power One decision would take about 15 months.

Deputy Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten I welcome Professor Melis and thank him for a very interesting presentation. If he ever gives up his present job in the construction of no-frills metros, I am sure there is an airline company that would be very interested in his services. I have several questions for him.

The consultation process in Madrid was eight or nine months. Here it is approximately two-and-a-half years. What changes were made to speed up the public consultation process in Madrid? Were the tendering and procurement procedures any different than they would normally be in terms of this project? In his contribution Professor Melis also mentioned a number of legislative changes that were made by Spanish Parliament to speed up the project. Will he outline briefly the type of legislative changes that were put through Parliament to expedite the project? There is a major debate here on whether we should opt for single bore or double bore tunnels. Many people believe a double bore tunnel is much safer. Why did the people in Madrid go with their particular process and what was the impact on cost in respect of that? Professor Melis spoke about difficulties experienced by contractors. What were the cost overruns on the Madrid project? Perhaps he could give us a typical example of the type of problems that arose.

Deputy Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall I thank Professor Melis for a very interesting presentation. I am sure we have a lot to learn. I thank him also for showing us the route of the metro because this is the first time we have seen it. It goes through my constituency but we have not been shown it until now, and I thank Professor Melis for that.

Will Professor Melis explain the type of contracts used because we have a difficulty here in terms of the drawing up and supervision of contracts. There is a great deal of expertise in Madrid, which has had a metro system for a long time, but would Professor Melis accept it is difficult for us because this is our first time and we do not have that expertise? Is he saying that the expertise in Madrid existed within the government department responsible? Was the contract drawn up and supervised by those within that government department? What would Professor Melis recommend here where there is no expertise in respect of tunnelling or a metro service within a Government Department? Does he recommend a design, build and operate type of contract? How do we avoid the problem he spoke about of having advisers advising advisers and consultants advising consultants if we do not have the expertise within the State services?

I also want to ask Professor Melis about the planning process. Is there a system in Madrid whereby public good developments do not have to go through the normal planning process? We do not have such a system here and we are obliged to use a two to three year planning process. Arranging all of that currently would be very slow and cumbersome for us. Has Professor Melis advice on changing the planning system in that regard? Is there any potential for retaining and using the two tunnel boring machines currently being used in the Dublin port tunnel or is the size completely wrong?

Finally, on the difficulty experienced by members of the public who have disturbance under their homes, Professor Melis said it can be kept to a day or two and then the people can be compensated. What system of compensation was used in Madrid? We have a very complicated system where there is arbitration on the compensation and it can take months, if not years, to sort out. Has Professor Melis advice on that?

Senator Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I would also like to welcome the professor, the chargé d’affaires and the technical director of the Madrid metro. Everything they said is music to my ears. Some of us have been saying this for five, ten and 15 years. It was lovely to hear them say the soil is beautiful. We were told by experts on behalf of the city authorities that it was impenetrable and that it could not be done. We were told an underground could not be put in because of the river. They did not seem to notice the existence of the Seine, the Hudson or the Thames. What the delegation said is real music to the ears of those of us, particularly in the Seanad, which, although we are the weaker of the two Houses, facilitated this project by amending the legislation.

On the railway stations, I was very interested in the illustrations which demonstrated that simple is beautiful. We do not have to have the aesthetic of a museum. The efficient functioning of a clean, simple railway station is itself a thing of beauty and will be appreciated by the citizens.

How significant are the labour costs? I understand they are about 50% higher here. I do not imagine there is anything against us hiring in other European workers because of the free movement of people. If we can get a better deal, why should we not do that? There is obvious flab throughout the industry.

I hope people made note of the comment that there were five times too many people employed in some of these projects; I think we know where some of them are located. It is remarkable that we were first told the project would cost €4.8 billion. It has come down this morning to €3.2 billion. That is very welcome news, and now another €2 billion has been knocked off it. Let us go for that. That is what we want. That is what we were saying.

I want to make a final point, which was anticipated by Deputy Shortall. One of the most important points Professor Melis made to us concerns our responsibility as legislators. In Madrid they cleared the ground. It is vital for this project, and I wonder if Professor Melis would agree, that we, as legislators, should clear the ground as well. It would be of great assistance if he would advise us on precisely what needs to be cleared away.

I formally propose to the committee that we should establish a working group here of parliamentarians, with the advice of people from the appropriate Departments, to review whatever legislation needs to be changed, prepare it and present it to Government so that it will be ready. We ought to start working on that now because if we are talking seriously, and I would like to see it in by 2006, it is vital that we, as legislators, do our job. In a debate in the Seanad the other day, we were told by the Government side that it would be 2016. Let us have it in 2006 with the help of Professor Melis’s advice.

Chairman: Information on Eoin Ryan Zoom on Eoin Ryan There are many questions for you, Professor.

Professor Melis: Yes. Public consultation does not take eight months in Madrid. We prepare a summary of the time involved and then send it to the official newspaper where it is open for public consultation. I believe it is two months for normal citizens and three months for authorities - ministry and so on. We then get all the claims against the project, the Government decides and that is it. Three months. We study them in one or two weeks. Time is very important so the eight months is a misunderstanding.

Deputy Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten The submissions come back after three months? Those submissions then have to be gone through and whatever changes are to be made to the design are then made. The whole process——

Professor Melis: No. If there is a serious change in the design, it will take a long time but it never happened. People understand that when the technicians and everybody have agreed on where the stations should be, it is the best solution. This is not exactly a science but there is a science called transport modelling. The stations should be where people can reach them, so there is no discussion. Everybody understands. One or two weeks after the public exhibition everything was clear.

Chairman: Information on Eoin Ryan Zoom on Eoin Ryan Do you have people hugging the trees and so forth?

Professor Melis: No, because everybody knows it is a great benefit for the city. It is similar to the high speed train lines. Of course, people complain about them but they are an enormous benefit for a country. Europe is changing with the high speed train lines.

The second question was about the tendering procedures. We prepare the design and send it to Brussels within 52 days. We normally give the bidders about two or three months. They do not need any more because the design is detailed enough. We do not accord too much importance to the price. We do not do what is done in Ireland. There is just one open international bid. Price is not important. The important issue is that the technical solution is correct and the staff are experienced. We are aware that if we award the contract to the lowest bid, it will probably have some flaws. It is like going to the opera. If one goes to the opera, one went to listen to Maria Callas before she died or to Tibaldi. It is an art and one wants to know the names of the artists, such as Maria Callas, Renata Tibaldi or Monserrat Caballe. We want the names of the people and to know how many tunnels they have built. This is what concerns us in the tendering process. In the last tendering process we gave the price a weighting of only 10%.

Chairman: Information on Eoin Ryan Zoom on Eoin Ryan If the costs are not a major issue for you but they are, supposedly, for us, how is it that you can tunnel at a fraction of the cost we would pay?

Professor Melis: That is easy. If the contract is awarded to the lowest bid, there will bebad equipment, possibly bad conditions andcollapses. One collapse means a one yeardelay.

Chairman: Information on Eoin Ryan Zoom on Eoin Ryan We are not offering it to the lowest bidder. People are estimating that it will cost €4.8 billion to build a metro to Dublin Airport.

Senator Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris It has come down to €3.6 billion.

Deputy Ellis: Information on John Ellis Zoom on John Ellis It is now down to €1.1 billion.

Professor Melis: At the beginning, nobody knows how the project will go. They do not have the least idea. Let us suppose we are engaged in a discussion of how much it will cost to build a manned station on the planet Mars. Nobody has any idea. That is the reason we are here to tell the committee what it should cost. The first time a line is built nobody has any idea of the cost. However, it has happened in Madrid, Paris and London so we know exactly how much it costs.

Senator Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris The system Professor Melis is suggesting for Dublin could be easily extended to provide a more comprehensive metro system if the initial line was successful. Is that correct?

Professor Melis: Of course.

Senator Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris That is the vital point.

Professor Melis: Our parliament decided it was not necessary to have an environmental impact declaration for the underground parts of the line. It was underground so it did not create a problem. A law was passed by parliament to remove this requirement. It makes sense because we are not creating a problem by constructing an underground tunnel. It facilitated the construction of the station on the surface because there was only a temporary disruption of traffic. People should only be disturbed for about 12 months when building the bigger station in O’Connell Street. Friday passes very quickly and then the next Friday arrives and one year has only 52 Fridays. Disturbing people in O’Connell Street should be finished in 12 months. There is no problem.

A question was asked about a single bore or two bores. Take the example of high speed trains travelling at 400 kilometres per hour. There was an accident in Germany on 8 June 1998 when a fast train hit a bridge after a wheel broke down. A total of 100 people died. If there is an accident involving a high speed train in a tunnel with two sets of tracks, 1,000 people will die immediately, perhaps even 1,000 per train. France has doubled the number of trains carrying 1,000 people per train. I will never recommend one tube with two sets of tracks for high speed trains. It is very dangerous.

In Japan, on the line going from Tokyo to Nagasaki - Osaka, Kobe, Nagasaki - the long east to west line, there is not one tunnel with two tracks inside but there are 187 tunnels. I counted them. Fast trains run on this line every day but there are no accidents. The Channel Tunnel was built with two tubes. The London metro is built with two tubes, as is the case in Singapore. French engineers are among the best in the world but the Paris metro is always one tunnel with two sets of tracks. We copied the Paris metro in the Madrid metro and have one tunnel with two sets of tracks inside, except when we did not have enough big tunnelling machines and used the smaller machines to build two tunnels. This happened twice due to the lack of machines.

Usually we work one tunnel with two sets of tracks. The idea apparently was that if there were an accident or a fire on a train, the assisting train could come down fast on the other track. Our trains are slow. They travel at between 70 and 80 kilometres per hour so if one stops and another collides with it, there is no big damage and there will not be an enormous number of victims. It is possible that nobody will be killed. As far as I know, we have not had any accidents nor has the Paris metro or the London underground. These accidents do not happen any more.

The system today is wonderful and sophisticated. When the committee visits Madrid to see the system or if it travels to Paris or other cities, the members will see how the computers can do anything. There is not just one computer controlling the signalling system but two working in parallel. Unless they agree with each other every nanosecond, all trains will stop. The two computers are designed by different teams and the subway is designed by a different team and they must agree. There is a third big brother type computer checking the two others and if one fails, that computer deals with it. It is very safe. I cannot recommend either two tubes or one tube. Both solutions are excellent. London uses two tubes. It is complicated to design and might be more expensive but it might be safer. Who knows?

With regard to cost overruns, engineers will always cause a problem with cost overruns. Therefore, in preparing the metro budget an extra 30% should be included, just in case. The construction of the famous Sydney Opera House involved a cost overrun of 1,400%, while the Channel Tunnel’s cost overrun was 80%. Such cost overruns are quite normal because we do not know in advance what is underground - it is impossible - and it is even more difficult to imagine what famous architects have in mind. Apparently, the Sydney Opera House’s cost overrun arose from a problem of architectural design. It should not be forgotten that cost overruns occur everywhere and traffic estimates will always be wrong, erring on the optimistic side. Do not trust us, the engineers, because we always make mistakes when we do the estimates - everybody is very optimistic. An additional 30% should be included in the budget estimate, just in case, but contractors should not know about it, otherwise they will count on keeping it, so another 30% of €1.3 billion will have to be kept aside.

Chairman: Information on Eoin Ryan Zoom on Eoin Ryan It is €5.8 billion now.

Professor Melis: The problem of expertise can be solved very quickly by sending some engineers to Madrid, Paris or London so they can learn to move people by metro. In Madrid, we transport two million people every day. If three engineers are sent to us, one of them will learn about transporting people on trains, another will learn about overhead line maintenance and workshop repairs, while the third will learn about engineering design and construction - for free, of course. If Ireland succeeds in building a metro system, then the Dublin and Madrid metros will be the final proof that we are right. The tunnelling can be done for less than €100 million or €80 million per kilometre, and the surface section for much less. The Dublin and Madrid metros will provide an example of cost efficiency for other such proposed underground systems around the world, including in South America and Asia. Most cities will require metros so Ireland will be in a position to send engineers to work on them. When the Dublin metro starts, Irish engineers will have much expertise in transporting people and repairing trains.

Trains experience mechanical failure, which we call infant mortality. Every time we get a new train it will start failing; they are not like cars. Millions of cars are manufactured every year but not so many trains are constructed. Thirty years ago, cars broke down very frequently and it is the same with trains now.

I am sure that through the embassy, you can talk with our president who is the mayor of the city, having won the elections last week. We will be very glad to receive the members of this committee, and so will he.

Deputy Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall Could I clarify the type of contracts used in Madrid? Were they design, build and operate contracts?

Professor Melis: No, Deputy. Normally, one should design the transport system the way one designs a garden. This is a very important thing for the city. Our experience is that, unless one provides a design, they will always try to save some money. It can be done if one fixes the specifications, including the number of subway stations that are required, the number of trains needed to cater for rush-hour traffic, and the tracks. We have never done it, except on one occasion on the surface. The next time we will do our own design.

Deputy Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall Is the Madrid metro system operated by the public or private sector?

Chairman: Information on Eoin Ryan Zoom on Eoin Ryan Deputy, there are others who have not had an opportunity to put a question.

Deputy P. Power: Information on Peter Power Zoom on Peter Power As usual, Chairman, most of the questions that I had intended to pose have already been asked. I thank Professor Melis for attending the meeting. He and his colleagues are very welcome. I thank him for his invitation to go to Spain. I would like to formally propose that we take up that invitation, Chairman. The Spanish metro is world renowned and we owe it to ourselves to examine it in operation. One key item in Professor Melis’s presentation, which I will not forget, concerns the compression of time for all such projects. For too long here, all such projects have dragged on for years and as surely as night follows day the costs increase. That is one lesson I have learned from Professor Melis. The other lesson which follows on from that is that we, as legislators, and the Government have to put every single mechanism in place to make sure the time for all infrastructural projects is compressed in the public interest. Some people may be unhappy and disgruntled about that but we must consider the greater good, which for far too long has been disregarded. Those are the two most important lessons that I have taken from Professor Melis’s talk. May we have a copy of his presentation in due course? Professor Melis’s costing was very specific at €1,050 million.

Chairman: Information on Eoin Ryan Zoom on Eoin Ryan We have to be out of the room by 10.45 a.m.

Deputy P. Power: Information on Peter Power Zoom on Peter Power I wish to ask one question, while most of my colleagues have asked ten or 15. We really do not get a fair crack of the whip on this side of the House. It is something we should rectify. How was the figure of €1,050 million actually calculated? Can Professor Melis break it down for us? I am just looking for broad figures.

Deputy Ellis: Information on John Ellis Zoom on John Ellis I have three straightforward questions. Professor Melis has educated us about how to provide a metro system at an acceptable price. Was there fixed-price contracting in Madrid and how many contractors were used there? What should be the breakdown with regard to the contracts for the Dublin metro? How many different segments should it be divided into?

Senator Morrissey: Information on Tom Morrissey Zoom on Tom Morrissey Can Professor Melis give us a percentage breakdown of the cost structure, including the civil works, for tunnelling, rolling stock, administration, legal and management costs? Can he explain the procurement of rolling stock, whereby when it arrives it has already been commissioned? Last week, I attended a meeting with Irish Rail, which is testing 80 rail cars in Limerick. It will take six to eight months to rectify problems with doors, let alone getting the rolling stock up and running on the tracks. I am told that it takes two years to commission rolling stock in the United Kingdom. I understand that English engineers have applauded the way we commission rolling stock, which only takes six to eight months. Professor Melis said the commissioning is done in tandem with purchasing, so can he provide some information on that point?

Professor Melis seems to have approached the project from a business perspective. Given his management expertise, did he bring a business perspective to this or was it treated just as an infrastructural project?

Senator Browne: Information on Feargal Browne Zoom on Feargal Browne I thank members of the delegation for their submission. Professor Melis confirmed that the tunnelling in Madrid was more difficult than he expected would be the case in Ireland because of underground water currents and pronounced slopes, which will not be as prevalent in Dublin. Will he clarify the kind of carriage he recommends? Should it be similar to the DART or the Luas light rail system? Does he recommend leasing or purchasing?

I agree with Senator Norris’s suggestion regarding the establishment of a working group. Are the PPPs done through public or public-private funding and who operates them?

Professor Melis: The sum of €1,050 million is a translation of our cost in the last 75 kilometres of the project to Dublin, taking account of the differences in labour and material costs. However, given that the system of management and common law in Ireland differs, the cost may be much higher. If so, it is the duty of members of the committee to reduce it.

We do not have a fixed price contact in that while contracts are always fixed price, a bill of quantity and prices are included. It means that the cost of extra work can be negotiated. It is the best way to proceed.

With regard to the number of contracts, Dublin will have underground, elevated and surface components. Six kilometres can be easily done by one contractor. That is the wise approach as to award anything greater may complicate matters. Given the service station infrastructure and other factors, such as overhead lines, as many as 80 subcontractors can be involved, which is normal. However, one contract should cover an entire line, while another should cover service stations. It means that contracts will cover the civil engineering aspect, including tunnelling, service stations and so on, while another contract should cover each line.

It may be desirable to divide some of the lines and while it could be done, different machines may be required. However, given the level of disturbance in the city centre, it would be much better to put the shaft in the north of the city, say on Collins Avenue. One contractor could be involved, with joint ventures between local contractors.

In terms of the total cost, the civil engineering aspect will account for 70%; trains 14%; electrical and mechanical installations, 13.3%; design and preliminary work, 0.5%; while quality and quantity control should comprise the remainder. A similar percentage breakdown should apply to all contracts.

It will be necessary to have an input into the design of the commissioned trains. This will ensure that changes can be implemented in the factories. The relevant contractors should be paid to have responsibility in this area.

Chairman: Information on Eoin Ryan Zoom on Eoin Ryan Thank you, Professor Melis. Could you submit a breakdown of the cost of tunnelling? For example, we hear that labour constitutes 40% of the cost. This information would enable us to ascertain why our costs are so high.

Professor Melis: I will be pleased to do so.

Chairman: Information on Eoin Ryan Zoom on Eoin Ryan On behalf of the committee, I thank you and your delegation for a most enlightening meeting. It is an honour for us that you attended. I hope we will visit Madrid to see the work you are doing there.

Professor Melis: Please do so.

Chairman: Information on Eoin Ryan Zoom on Eoin Ryan We congratulate you on your successes in Madrid.

Professor Melis: I thank you, Chairman.


Last Updated: 03/28/2015 11:43:30 PM First Page Previous Page Page of 3 Next Page Last Page