€4.8m ‘guarantee payments’ boost Limerick tunnel firm

Traffic guarantee payments totalling €4.8m by Transport Infrastructure Ireland — TII — to the firm operating the €800m Limerick tunnel helped it post an operating profit of €6.8m last year.

New accounts filed by Directroute Limerick Ltd show the firm recorded a 3% drop in operating profits last year to €6.8m, while revenues increased slightly to €21.4m.

In a breakdown of revenues, the firm says the money generated from tolls last year increased 11% to €12.6m — or €34,553 a day.

The accounts disclose that it had €4.8m in traffic guarantee payments from TII — formerly the National Roads Authority. In 2014, it had €5.06m in guarantee payments.

The traffic guarantee payments are made when daily traffic volumes don’t exceed 23,000 vehicles.

They were put in place at the outset of the project in order to attract investors to bid.

It also had €3.9m in operational payments from TII, which include payments “for work performed upgrading market posts along the motorway on behalf of TII”.

It posted a pre-tax loss of €8.3m, mainly due to the large non-cash depreciation cost of €13.48m and finance payments of €15.32m.

According to the directors’ report “the largest expense remains interest repayment on the project funding, mainly in the form of bank loans and bonds.

"Traffic guarantee payments have increased in line with the contract and provide a necessary contribution to the project funding”.

The directors say traffic increased last year. At the end of 2015, the firm owed €397m to its creditors — down from the €403m owed at the end of 2014.

It had a shareholders’ deficit of €39.92m.

The Limerick tunnel route — which acts as a by-pass to Limerick city — was first opened to traffic in July 2010.

Motorists pay €1.90 to use the tunnel.

The DirectRoute Limerick group includes Lagan, Roadbridge, Sisk Contractors, Austrian-based Strabag, AIB and Meridiam Infrastructure. The figures show that the toll road and tunnel had a book value of €346m.

A note attached to the accounts states: “The directors are aware that the company has reported a loss for the year.

“The directors have assessed the project’s cash requirements and prepared a forecast for the life of the concession.

“This forecast demonstrates, based on the underlying assumptions, that there will be sufficient cash for the project to meet its third party liabilities as they fall due.”

At the end of the concession period in 2041, the firm will hand back the road to TII.


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