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Written Answers. - Rail Services.

Tuesday, 26 November 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 1

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 60. Mr. P. McGrath Information on Paul McGrath Zoom on Paul McGrath  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  his plans to develop high speed inter-city trains. [23521/02]

 80. Mr. G. Mitchell Information on Gay Mitchell Zoom on Gay Mitchell  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  the number of meetings and agendas of any such meetings held with CIE regarding rail freight. [23530/02]

[151]

 81. Ms O. Mitchell Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  his plans to develop inter-city train services. [23522/02]

 83. Mr. McCormack Information on Pádraic McCormack Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  the number of meetings and the agendas of any meetings held with Iarnród Éireann regarding a rail commuter service to Galway. [23531/02]

 94. Mr. Kenny Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  the plans there are to close rail lines. [23525/02]

 110. Mr. G. Mitchell Information on Gay Mitchell Zoom on Gay Mitchell  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  his plans to develop rail freight. [23528/02]

 113. Mr. Sherlock Information on Joe Sherlock Zoom on Joe Sherlock  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  if he has commissioned a cost-benefit analysis of the movement by freight by rail rather than road; if he will undertake to do so prior to a decision being taken on the future of the freight services of Iarnród Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23467/02]

 118. Mr. Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  the Government policy on rail line closures. [23526/02]

 119. Mr. M. Higgins Information on Michael D. Higgins Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  the position regarding the future of the Iarnród Éireann freight service, especially having regard to reports that up to 600 rail freight workers may be laid off in the new year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23448/02]

 124. Mr. Deasy Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  his plans to develop and re-open rail lines. [23497/02]

 127. Mr. McCormack Information on Pádraic McCormack Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  his plans to develop a rail commuter service to Galway city. [23529/02]

 134. Mr. Coveney Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  his policy on the development of the western rail corridor. [23523/02]

 137. Mr. Kenny Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  if he will develop the western rail corridor. [23524/02]

 138. Mr. Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  the Government policy on rail freight. [23527/02]

 147. Mr. Howlin Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  when he expects to receive the results of the strategic study on the Irish rail system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23447/02]

[152]

 148. Ms Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  the consideration he has given to the introduction of incentives to industry and to the railway authorities to make rail transport more attractive, similar to the incentive schemes that operate in Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Austria and other states, given the EU policy of actively encouraging greater utilisation of rail as a freight transport mode; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23564/02]

 154. Mr. M. Higgins Information on Michael D. Higgins Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  if he will make a statement on the future of the Galway-Mayo rail link, especially having regard to the decision of Iarnród Éireann to lift the crossover at Athenry. [23449/02]

 395. Mr. Sargent Information on Trevor Sargent Zoom on Trevor Sargent  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  if a favourable response can be given to keep open and develop the passenger rail and freight capacity from Rosslare Harbour and Limerick Junction. [23656/02]

 396. Mr. Sargent Information on Trevor Sargent Zoom on Trevor Sargent  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  if his attention has been drawn to the logic of setting an objective and timeframe to reinstate the rail links north-south from Sligo to Cork via Galway, Ennis, Shannon and Limerick with an extension to Letterkenny and Derry city in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23657/02]

 405. Mr. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  his plans to transfer a greater amount of freight traffic to the railways; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23774/02]

 420. Mr. Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  the role of consultants (details supplied) appointed by his Department; if the project is ongoing; the conclusions drawn from this work; the cost of the consultancy to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23793/02]

Minister for Transport (Mr. Brennan): Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan I propose to take Questions Nos. 60, 80, 81, 83, 94, 110, 113, 118, 119, 124, 127, 134, 137, 138, 147, 148, 154, 395, 396, 405 and 420 together.

I have no plans to close any part of the rail system and neither have I received any proposals from Iarnród Éireann to do so. Furthermore, the company has informed me that it has made no decision to reduce its workforce by 600.

It is my stated position that future investment in the railways will be guided by the outcome of the strategic rail review which is nearing completion. The consultants undertaking the study have liaised closely with Iarnród Éireann in considering the options for the future development of the rail network.

During the course of meetings with chairman of CIE on 9 September and 22 October 2002, the agenda for which was the overall deterioration in the finances of the group and the reform of public transport generally, he raised specific concerns about the losses being incurred by the rail freight business and he informed me the matter would be considered by the board at a forthcoming meeting. On 6 November the matter was considered by the board and I conveyed my view that no decisions should be taken on the withdrawal [153] of freight services until the completion of the strategic rail review.

The board of CIE at its meeting on that day agreed to postpone any decisions in this regard. For my part, I will take full account of the findings and recommendations of the review before taking any decisions on the future of Iarnród Éireann and any of its services.

The strategic rail review was commissioned by my Department earlier this year. The primary purpose of the review is to provide the Government with a basis for establishing a strategic policy framework for the future development of the rail sector in Ireland. More specifically, the consultants carrying out the review are required to prepare a strategic framework for future rail development in Ireland over the next 20 years, quantify the broad financial requirements necessary to implement the recommended strategy and assess the costs and benefits of the recommended strategy.

Following an extensive nationwide consultation exercise on the terms of reference for the study, my Department received more than 150 written submissions with regard to rail issues in Ireland. I understand that the submissions received include proposals relating to developing a western rail corridor, which would link Sligo with Cork via Claremorris, Athenry and Limerick and would create potential for the future development of rail services to Letterkenny and Derry. Proposals with regard to the development of the Limerick to Rosslare line were also received.

While the provision of a commuter rail service to Galway city has also been proposed, I have had no meetings with Iarnród Éireann on the matter. I am informed that other submissions relate to proposed improvements in the speed and reliability of inter-city rail services, proposals for the re-opening of old rail lines and for the construction of new lines and spurs to the current rail network,

These and all other rail proposals received are being assessed as part of the strategic rail review which will make recommendations in this regard. The strategic rail review, which is being carried out by a consortium led by Booz Allen Hamilton, is examining the long-term rail requirements for the country as a whole in the light of the emerging spatial planning and regional development policies and local land use and transportation studies. The review will embrace both rail freight and rail passenger services and will cover both urban, commuter and inter-regional rail services and how to improve journey times on the network. The review is due to be completed by the end of this year and has involved expenditure of some €330,000 to date.

Central to the review is an examination of the potential for rail freight services, including an assessment of the scope to transfer a greater amount of road freight to the rail network. In this regard, I understand that cost-benefit analysis work is being undertaken and that the question of [154] support mechanisms comparable to those in other countries is also being considered.

Iarnród Éireann has informed me that the recent removal of the crossover at Athenry is an intrinsic part of a project designed to modernise the signalling system on the Galway to Dublin line. When the project is completed, I understand that it will lead to improvements in terms of comfort, safety and speed on the route. To have altered the design would have seriously delayed the completion of the work, thereby further delaying improvements which will be to the benefit of all users of the line. As the work is part funded by the European Commission, any delay could have also jeopardised that funding.


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