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[WATCH] PN unveils metro plan: first train in five years

PN's metro project estimated at €2.3 billion, first train planned for 2022

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
26 May 2017, 9:15am
PN leader Simon Busuttil (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
PN leader Simon Busuttil (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
 

The Nationalist Party has unveiled an ambitious plan to construct a light rail metro across Malta and Gozo.

PN leader Simon Busuttil told a press conference at Msida that his plan is for the first of the four planned lines - connecting Valletta, Msida, Sliema and St Julian's - to be up and running by the end of the first legislature in five years’ time.

The second planned line will connect Valletta, Birkirkara, Ta' Qali, Mosta and Naxxar, the third will connect Valletta, Paola, the airport, Fgura, Cottonera, Zabbar and Marsascala, and the fourth will run from St Julian's to Cirkewwa and Victoria (Gozo).

The train will operate between 6am and midnight, with its frequency varying from five minutes in peak hours on the Valletta-Msida-Sliema-St Julian’s route and to 15 minutes on the other routes during peak and off-peak times.  

It will be a hybrid metro, running both overground and underground according to the location. It will involve the construction of a number of arterial and residential roads, but Busuttil said that his intention is for no ODZ land to be taken up by the project.  

The project is estimated to cost €2.3 billion, plus an additional €300 million to construct the Malta-Gozo tunnel. The annual operational cost has been estimated at €56 million.

Busuttil said that the project could take the form of a public-private partnership and that up to 90% of the costs will come from EU funds. Preferential facilities will also be sought from other European and local agencies, such as the European Investment Bank and the Malta Development Bank.

Private sector investment will be sought to finance the remaining 10% of the capital expenditure, amounting to the purchase of the trains and the construction of a Central Depot, where the trains will be sheltered at night.

In a booklet distributed to the press, the PN said that a metro will have economic, social, health and environmental benefits. It cites a 2015 study conducted by the Institute for Climate Change and Sustainable Development at the University of Malta as stating that traffic congestion costs the country some €274 million annually.

It also states that a shift from a car-dependent transport system to an effective metro will slash carbon dioxide emissions, therefore helping Malta reach its EU targets to reduce toxic gas emissions by 40% by 2030.

PN will consider introducing Uber

The metro system forms part of the PN’s policy to reduce car dependence and shift to other forms of transport. In its booklet, it notes the existence of mobile apps for mobility services, including Uber which allows people to use their own private cars as taxis.

When asked by MaltaToday whether a PN government will introduce Uber into Malta, Busuttil said that he is ready to consider all forms of public and private transport to facilitate a multi-modal means of transport.

Multi-modality means that people will combine different means of transport to undertake their journeys – such as walking or cycling to a train station, catching a train to the next station, and then catching a minibus to the final destination. The PN’s booklet states that the concept of multi-modality encourages people to plan their travels, and to engage in multi-tasking along the way, such as getting exercise whilst walking, or reading or catching up on emails in the train or on the bus.

He added that the PN will honour the government’s contract with bus operators Autobuses de Leon, but will ensure free public transport for students and ‘Katanzjan’ holders.