The Malta Independent 8 December 2021, Wednesday

This is just the start: proposed metro project plans could be extended in the future

Shona Berger Sunday, 10 October 2021, 08:30 Last update: about 3 months ago

The newly-proposed metro system is a modular network so it can be extended as demand grows, the Transport Ministry told The Malta Independent on Sunday.

The metro system proposal was announced last week by government together with a London-based firm that was tasked with studying the proposal.

The proposed project will include three metro lines with a total of 35km of tracks and 25 stations across Malta’s main urban area. The study, which was carried out by engineering and planning firm Arup Group, suggests that the metro system will mostly be underground with a small part above ground, between Naxxar and Bugibba.

ADVERTISEMENT

Experts tasked with designing the mass transport system said that the first phase of the project would be completed within five to eight years. The first phase would be the red line, which goes from Bugibba to Pembroke and Sliema. The entire project would take a total of 15 to 20 years to complete.

As it stands, the proposed metro system will cover a total of 24 locations. Although Transport Minister Ian Borg said that reaction to the project so far has been positive, some criticised the network for not catering for all of Malta, but just parts. This was particularly felt in the South area as well as in Qormi – Malta’s second largest city.

The proposed metro lines will take passengers through the following locations: Luqa (Malta International Airport), Fgura, Żabbar, Cospicua, Paola, Marsa Park & Ride, Marsa, Ħamrun, Floriana, Valletta, Msida, Mater Dei Hospital, Gżira, Sliema, Balluta, St Julian’s, Pembroke, Mrieħel, Birkirkara, Balzan, Attard, Ta’ Qali, Mosta, Naxxar and Bugibba.

This newsroom reached out to the Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects on the determining factors on where the stations would be placed. A spokesperson for Minister Borg said that one will have the possibility to amend the proposed network following further studies, consultations and market-sounding exercises.

The determining factors highlighted by the study include commuter catchment, criteria related to the population of certain towns and villages as well as the financial aspect of the project.

Since the population of towns and villages was taken into consideration, one might question: “Why wasn’t Qormi, Malta’s second largest city, included in the metro system?” or “Why does it seem that the majority of the South area has been forgotten?”

The Tranport Ministry explained that it is precisely to analyse and listen to this feedback that government published the results of studies conducted by international experts. The idea succeeding the proposal of the metro system is to carry out a consultation exercise, giving everyone the chance to put forward their ideas about the project.

The placement of stations was mainly determined by three factors. These include the current and future demand analyses on the latest data and statistics that Transport Malta has, the Principal Urban Areas where future action would be needed the most, as well as cost factors of the whole projects including its feasbility and sustainability.

Government had said that apart from the consultation exercise, the financing of the project would also need to be discussed. The private sector could play an important role in its implementation. The project would cost an estimated €6bn.

With regards to Qormi, the Ministry explained that this is not being excluded from the network as the experts suggest connecting it with the Marsa Park & Ride Station. A connection might also be included from St Sebastian area, which is adjacent to the Primary School.

“Another specific study would be carried out for San Gwann, the outskirts of Birkirkara, Swatar, Gżira and Msida as they all surround the Mater Dei and University of Malta complex/central station as travel demand for the area will increase dramatically over the coming years,” Transport Ministry said.

Once the proposed metro system is up and running, it will be complemented with a revamped bus network. A study will need to be carried out on the transport system. However, it will consist of feeder routes from towns and villages to the closest proposed metro stations as well as a circulatory network that will service certain larger towns and villages, such as Qormi, Birkirkara, Naxxar and others, with smaller and much more frequent buses, Transport Ministry said.

The current proposed network is in its initial design stage and indicates connectivity from the remaining towns and villages not serviced with a metro station.

The Ministry explained that similar to other metro systems in countries such as Copenhagen, London or Sydney, which were or are still being expanded, Malta will be the same and the system will be extended as demand grows.

The proposed project can be viewed on metro.mt, where one can also submit feedback on the project

  • don't miss