The operators of one of the most controversial road schemes in Ireland generated over €380,000 per week in operating profits from the route last year.
New figures show that the M3 Motorway, which runs from Clonee to north of Kells, Co Meath, generated €19.8m in operating profits for its private operator, Eurolink Motorway Operation (M3) Ltd, while a €2.6m state-sponsored subsidy contributed to the profits.
In total, the firm recorded €29.4m, €80,780 per day, in revenues in 2014, compared to €29.5m in 2013.
However, daily traffic volumes increased 7.34% on the route last year to over 23,000 vehicles. The firm’s revenues are made up of road tolls and operational payments from the National Roads Authority (NRA).
The road tolls are generated by a €1.40 charge to motorists at each of the two toll plazas on the route.
NRA money includes traffic guarantee payments that are paid if sufficient volumes of motorists do not use the tolled route. The guarantee was put in place due to the high cost of the route and due to it being a challenging project to deliver.
The NRA’s annual report for 2014 show that, last year, the NRA paid the M3 firm €2.6m as part of the traffic guarantee scheme, while payments for the Limerick tunnel were much higher at €5m.
The 51km M3 was built at a cost of almost €1bn. It was the largest infrastructure scheme delivered through a Public Private Partnership at the time.
The motorway, which was the subject of a series of protests as it runs near the ancient Hill of Tara, bypasses Dunshaughlin, Navan, and Kells.
There are two toll plazas, one at Pace, between Dunshaughlin and Clonee, and one at Grange, between Navan and Kells.
The company is jointly owned by Irish firm Siac Construction and a subsidiary of Spanish company Ferrovial. The company last year approved a dividend of €2m from the route to shareholders. This followed a dividend of €2m in 2013.
The figures show pre-tax profits rose by 12%, going from €8.27m to €9.27m. The significant difference between operating and pre-tax profits arose from payment of €10.6m in bank interest to finance loans used to construct the route.
The consortium had bank loans totalling €185m at the end of last year. The number of employees last year rose by one to 23 with staff costs increasing to €1.26m.
The firm’s directors state that, “after considering the business plan and the availability of committed financing facilities, the directors have a reasonable expectation that the company has adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future”.
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