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No Decision On Toll For Munster Motorway

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No Decision On Toll For Munster Motorway

No Decision On Toll For Munster Motorway
July 11
15:54 2024

Ireland’s Minister for Transport is to discuss tolling the N/M20 Cork to Limerick Project with Transport Infrastructure Ireland, writes David Keniry.

Minister Eamon Ryan TD confirmed to parliament that the project team is currently recommending that the scheme should be tolled and progressed as a motorway but from the Department of Transport’s perspective there is no final conclusion on either the design or the tolling arrangements for the project between the cities of Cork and Limerick, which consists of a replacement of 80 km of the existing roadway.

Cork North-West Fianna Fáil TD Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister in the Dáil that: “New roads with tolls are often associated with public-private partnership, where funding had been brought in to build that road. I understand that is not the case with this road, or is it? Can the Minister outline whether it is proposed that it will be a PPP, or why there would be any possibility of a toll on the road?”


Both Moynihan and Cork North-Central Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould expressed opposition to tolling following a project update from the agencies delivering the project. Limerick City and County Council is progressing the development of the N/M20 Cork to Limerick project in partnership with Cork County Council, Cork City Council, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and the Department of Transport.

The latest update published on the 24th of June stated that to encourage sustainable transport choices, support Ireland’s climate action plan, and to support the maintenance and renewal of the new transport infrastructure, the project team has recommended demand management measures.

These measures include distance-based barrier-free tolling, whereby users pay on the basis of distance travelled on the new M20 motorway. Work is ongoing to determine appropriate toll charges for the various classes of vehicles, balancing a number of different factors, including the project objective to remove strategic traffic, especially heavy goods vehicles from the communities along the existing N20 to maximise safety and environmental benefits.

A further project update will be published in Q4 2024 (final design and fence line), with a planning application in 2025, subject to Government approval..

Ryan said that the scheme is still progressing through a design and appraisal process and no final decision has been taken. The final scheme and business case will be subject to the Government’s approval at gate 1 in compliance with the Infrastructure Guidelines. Further statutory approvals and formal processes would then be required to make a tolling scheme.

He added that he “will be looking for a meeting with TII on this because no information has come to me on its thinking or analysis. I want to sit down with it first to address the design, strategic and every aspect of this project. I will be looking for a meeting with TII to discuss the matters and will come back to the House to report on it.”

TII has entered into fifteen PPP contracts which consist of: eight Toll Concession Schemes PPPs, five Design Build Finance Operate Maintain (“DBFOM”) PPPs and two Motorway Service Area PPPs. Toll Concession PPPs are partly or fully financed by the private sector and remunerated by user charges (tolls) and TII payments. DBFOM PPPs are financed by the private sector and remunerated by payments from TII (termed availability payments or unitary payments).

The last four road projects delivered under a PPP contract in Ireland are all DBFOM PPPs remunerated by availability payments. They are the N7/N11 Arklow/Rathnew (incl Newlands Cross) which opened in 2013, N17/N18 Gort to Tuam which opened in 2017, the M11 Gorey-Enniscorthy which became operational in 2019, and the N25 New Ross Bypass which became operational in 2020.

The eight Toll Concession Schemes are the M1 Dundalk Western Bypass which opened in 2004, M4/M6 Kilcock/Kinnegad which opened in 2005, the M8 Rathcormac/Fermoy which opened in 2006, and the M7/M8 Portlaoise/Cullahill, M6 Galway/Ballinasloe, M3 Clonee/Kells, and N18 Limerick Tunnel which all opened in 2010.

The M3 Clonee-Kells and N18 Limerick Tunnel PPP Contracts both provide for Variable Operation Payments (VOPs) also referred to as “Traffic Guarantee payments”. The VOP risk-sharing mechanism is unique to these two PPP Toll Concession Contracts and arises in circumstances where actual traffic volumes do not reach the threshold volumes that are specified in the respective PPP contracts.

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