Railway Procurement Agency
|State Agency of the Department of Transport overview|
|Formed||28 December 2001|
|Dissolved||1 August 2015|
|Headquarters||Parkgate Business Centre, Parkgate Street, Dublin 8|
|State Agency of the Department of Transport executive||
The Railway Procurement Agency (Irish: An Ghníomhaireacht um Fháil Iarnród) was a State agency of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in the Republic of Ireland, charged with the development of light railway and the future metro infrastructure. It was established on 28 December 2001 under the Transport (Railway Infrastructure) Act 2001 and dissolved on 1 August 2015 under the terms of the Roads Act 2015, when all of its functions were transferred to the National Roads Authority (NRA). The better to reflect its expanded remit, the NRA has since 1 August 2015 described itself for operational purposes as Transport Infrastructure Ireland.
Many of the staff of the agency came from the Light Rail Project Office of Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ), which was dissolved upon the RPA's inception. The agency operated completely independently of CIÉ. This was due to a fear by the government that CIÉ's implementation of new rail projects would be slow and inefficient, as the company is not well regarded by the country's political leadership. The RPA's main role was overseeing the operation of the Luas system, along with the planning of new Luas and Metro lines for Dublin as laid out under the Irish Government's Capital Investment Plan. The operation of the Luas is contracted out to Transdev, and the RPA were responsible for monitoring their performance.
The agency had no role in the mainline railway system, which is operated by Iarnród Éireann, itself a subsidiary of CIÉ.
National Transport Authority initiatives
The RPA had a crucial role in implementing key rail elements of the Irish Government's initiatives, administered by the National Transport Authority. It was responsible for the planning, coordination and procurement through conventional means, and through Public Private Partnership, where necessary, of the following projects:
- Dublin Metro, consisting of Metro North and Metro West- Deferred indefinitely in 2011.
- The RPA was also responsible for planning new Luas lines to Lucan, along with a second Green line extension to Bray.
The RPA was also responsible for the current Luas Cross City project, which began in June 2013 and is expected to be completed by December 2017. It involves linking St Stephen's Green to the Iarnród Éireann station at Broombridge. This line is an extension of the current Green line and will also physically join the Red line.
The RPA was also responsible for the following projects, all now complete:
- Connolly Station to Point Depot extension - Red Line (Completed in 2009).
- Sandyford to Cherrywood/Brides Glen extension - Green Line (Completed in 2010).
- Belgard to Citywest extension - Red Line (Completed in 2011).
Luas Red Line - Engineering
In 2006, the RPA were criticised for allowing the Red Line to be opened, in the knowledge that parts of the track support of line were faulty in regards to track support. This became public through an independent report by Austrian consultants. Though not life-threatening, the supports must be replaced soon and the building contractors have agreed to do this at their own cost.
Chief Executive Dispute
Early on the CIÉ project director of Luas, Donal Mangan, took legal action as he felt that he had the right to be its chief executive. For two years the agency paid his salary and gave him an office, even though the chief executive's position had been filled by Frank Allen.
Integrated Ticketing Scheme
At the end of the last century the first discussions and investigations started to introduce a standard payment scheme for all modes of public transport. When the plans for the -then- new platform the Luas became reality the demand for one single ticketing scheme became more and more important and it was the intention and goal to introduce the new scheme together with the opening of the new Luas line. The Leap card scheme, final result of this lengthy process, uses a smartcard which is usable in all Dublin public transport systems. The RPA was respobsible for drawing up an integrated ticketing scheme, and the project was victim of many set-backs: many times exceeding the budgets, not delivering on date etc. The RPA was also responsible for the development of the Luas smart-card which is not compatible with the new Leap card which was delivered in December 2011.Though integrated ticketing, of a form, existed in Dublin prior to the LEAP card, in the form of dual or triple service paper magnetic strip tickets, these were not the basis for the interconnected ticketing system. In fact many argue that LEAP is a smart card, but not integrated ticketing. For example, there are magnetic strip ticket options that allow one unlimited travel on all three Dublin public transport services, and inter-city tickets that allow a person taking an intercity journey to also ride Dublin Bus or Luas into the city centre from regional rail stations if they wish, as part of their ticket price. LEAP is not fully integrated. While it can be used across all three services, there is no single zonal system for all Dublin public transport and one cannot start a journey on a Bus and finish on a Luas, for example. There are also some oddities with the ticketing system. For example, a magnetic strip ticket in the form of a Daily Rambler for DART and Bus is €13.10, however the daily cap for the LEAP card means that one can have a de facto unlimited daily rambler on all services including Luas for just €10. Once this cap is reached, the card will not deduct further credit.