Last Updated on Sunday, 3 October, 2021 at 5:14 pm by Andre Camilleri
The first phase of the proposed metro project would be completed within five to eight years, the experts tasked with designing the mass transport system said on Sunday.
Speaking at a technical briefing, civil engineer Peter Adams from Arup – the London-based firm tasked with the project – said that they wanted to unlock the maximum benefit for the project in the least time possible, which is why the project would be split into phases.
The first phase would be the red line – which goes from Bugibba to Pembroke and Sliema – would be completed in a period of between five and eight years, Adams said.
The project would take a total of 15 to 20 years to complete, he said.
The metro system, as proposed, will include three metro lines with a total of 35km of tracks and 25 stations across Malta’s main urban area. The study suggests that the metro system will mostly be underground, with a small part of it above ground between Naxxar and Bugibba.
Transport Minister Ian Borg explained that when the metro is up and running, it will be complemented with a transport system which will take passengers to un-serviced areas.
“The bus network would feed into the metro,” the minister said. “The network reflects the current and predicted critical mass.”
Adams said that Transport Malta had “made it very clear that we need to cater for all of Malta, and not just parts.”
However, Borg said that Gozo had been excluded from the metro system because its population is too small for it to be feasible, and because “we want to keep Gozo’s uniqueness intact.”
“We looked at all modes. We didn’t start with just a metro – we looked at cable cars, and elevated systems. We ranked them all in terms of costs and benefits, and the proposed metro was the conclusion,” he said.
He also noted that certain issues which might be of concern, such as noise and vibrations, have all been considered when planning this project.
“When you are building tunnels, there are well-practiced water management systems to follow. There is monitoring that goes there and there will be a dry system. We deal with it in construction and in other projects like this,” he noted.
As archeological discoveries in Malta are far from scant, this newsroom asked what would happen if they encountered such items of archeological and cultural significance while digging.
“The depth of the tunnels will be 25 metres. As soon we see any archeological artifacts we stop, we conserve, and then we continue. People who would be working on this project will be trained to know and respect this,” he said.
Borg said that reaction to the project so far has been positive and that he would like to see further consultation from here on in.
“I would like to see a national discussion. So far the feedback is exactly as I expected: the general public would like to see a mass transport project for Malta,” he remarked.
The designated experts have had their say on the metro, but now it is crucial for the Maltese public to participate in the discussion, he said.
An information centre has been set up next to the Triton Fountain in Valletta, which will be open for the public for 15 days in order to explain how the proposed system would work.
The proposed project also has a website, metro.mt, where one can submit their own feedback on the project.