Guaranteed payments of €4.1m by state agency Transport Infrastructure Ireland to the firm operating the Limerick tunnel helped it to an operating profit of €8.5m last year.
Nonetheless, Directroute Limerick Ltd posted a 9% drop in operating profits from €9.4m in the previous year, the new accounts show, while its traffic guarantee payments fell from €4.4m to €4.1m.
Earlier this year, the Dáil Public Accounts Committee was told the State has paid the toll operator €34m under the terms of a public-private partnership contract to compensate it for a lower than anticipated volumes of traffic using the tunnel.
A Transport Infrastructure Ireland official told the committee “conservative estimates” projected further traffic payments of about €150m over the remainder of the contract.
DirectRoute includes Lagan, Roadbridge, Sisk Contractors, Austria’s Strabag and Meridiam Infrastructure.
Toll income in 2017 from the tunnel increased from €13.86m to €14.9m, or €40,821 a day. The traffic-guarantee payments which are triggered when daily traffic volumes fall short of 23,000 were put in place at the outset of the project to attract bidders to build the tunnel.
The accounts show that Directroute Limerick Ltd posted a pre-tax loss of €7.6m, up 19% from 2016.
However, the pre-tax loss is largely due to the large non-cash depreciation cost of €13.48m incurred last year and finance payments of €15.8m.