Two years after the government proposed a €6.2 billion underground metro proposal, Robert Abela has admitted it is not a priority for the government. 

For the second year in a row, the metro was left out of the budget and the accompanying financial estimates, which list spending plans for the year ahead.

In a news conference after the budget plans were announced, the prime minister was asked about the future of the proposed three-line underground metro system.

“There are still studies ongoing and it is one of the possibilities or alternatives that we are considering, yet it is not at the top of our priorities,” he said. 

In October 2021, the government unveiled the proposal for an underground metro that would operate through 25 stations around Malta.

According to studies by London-based consultants, Arup Group, it would take 15 to 20 years to build. 

The metro project failed to be mentioned in the previous Budget speech, with Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia saying at the time that  “long-term feasibility” studies were being conducted.

Abela was also asked about the Malta-Gozo tunnel, a project that has had mixed reviews ever since studies were first launched by the Nationalist government back in 2012. 

Abela said since there are currently appeals filed on the Malta-Gozo tunnel, the government is now looking at other means of transport for Gozo. 

He said in the meantime, the government launched the fourth Gozo Channel vessel and introduced the fast ferry service. 

In a 10-year Gozo strategy document launched back in September, the government said it is set to “re-examine” the need for an underwater tunnel connecting the two islands. 

Infrastructure Malta had shortlisted a bidder for the tunnel project in 2021, but the process has since stalled.

According to a survey commissioned by Times of Malta in 2021, support for the project is split down the middle, with 41.6% of the Maltese population in favour and 38.8% against.

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