The government unveils a proposal for an underground metro with 25 stations and 6.2 billion euros

A proposal for a three-line underground metro system with 25 stations around Malta was unveiled by the government on Saturday.

The network would cost around 6.2 billion euros and its construction would take 15 to 20 years, according to studies by London-based consultancy Arup Group. A proposed first phase would cost 3.9 billion euros and could be operational in five to eight years.

The system would consist of three lines, covering a total of 35 km of track, going from Bugibba to Pembroke, from Birkirkara to Valletta and from Mater Dei to Cospicua. It will be entirely underground except for a short section between Naxxar and Bugibba.

The stations will be located in hubs in Malta’s main urban area, but the network will not extend to Gozo after studies concluded that a population increase of 50,000 on the smaller island would be needed to make the link viable.

A website with full details of the proposal can be found at www.metro.mt

“Mature and informed discussion”

Prime Minister Robert Abela said the study would allow for a mature and informed discussion on the subject of mass transport, including whether the country is ready to undertake such a long-term project.

Abela said funding for the project should also be discussed, adding that he sees great potential for private sector involvement.

“This proposal shows that the country is ready for ambitious reforms. We will continue to have an honest discussion with the aim of understanding the type of country we want to leave our children.”

Consultant Donald McDade of Arup said the studies looked at various mass transport options, including streetcars and elevated monorail systems, but concluded that these options would have had too large an impact on existing transport networks. , negative visual impacts and not sufficiently served by historic and hilly sites. areas.

He said the proposed system would meet the urgent need to reduce traffic congestion in Malta.

Entrance to the proposed train station outside of Valletta.

“Malta is suffering from increased congestion, deteriorating air quality and reduced quality of life as people spend more and more time traveling,” he said. he declares. “Malta’s road network lacks the capacity to adapt to continued growth despite recent infrastructure upgrades.”

McDade said a metro system would reduce the need for passenger cars, providing more space for recreation, greenery and business activities, while generating less air pollution per passenger than cars.

The proposed system would therefore reduce Malta’s carbon footprint and promote a healthier lifestyle with more physical activity, as well as an increase in personal leisure time.

The proposed underground system will use twin tunnels an average of 10 to 12 meters below street level to minimize impact on properties above.

The excavated material will be reused for land reclamation, subject to further environmental analysis and assessment.

The study includes proposed locations for the stations, although the public consultation phase is considering other locations.

Some of the proposed station locations include the Sliema ferry area, the Triton Fountain outside Valletta (with part of the existing bus terminus pedestrianized due to lower demand), the plaza near from the garden of the old station in Birkirkara and an open area outside the Mater Dei hospital.

Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg said the studies were intended to spark a discussion of the problems associated with the project, including understanding and justifying the time and cost involved.

“For the first time, we have a government-commissioned proposal that goes beyond elections, that would span multiple legislatures to really plan for future generations.”

After leading a € 700million overhaul of Malta’s road network in recent years, which has often proved controversial, Borg insisted the metro proposal could only exist once measures were taken. taken to address the short-term infrastructure challenges facing the country.

Noting the high level of passenger car use in Malta, he said the new plan would offer an alternative and promote a culture change, but until then improvements to the road network were still needed.

In a statement, the Nationalist Party welcomed the publication of the studies, recalling its own calls for a public transport system during the 2017 election campaign.

“We continue to believe that efficient and affordable mass transport is a must for Malta. We encourage all stakeholders to make their voices heard in this process to ensure the best possible outcome, one that benefits users across the country. and finally fight Malta’s traffic problem, the party said.

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