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Written Answers. - Rail Services.

Tuesday, 26 November 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 1

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 398. Mr. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  if his attention has been drawn to the overcrowding on the commuter rail services in north Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23767/02]

 400. Mr. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  if it is intended to further augment the rail services serving the towns of Maynooth, Leixlip, Celbridge, Kilcock and Naas-Sallins; if his attention has been drawn to the ongoing demands in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23769/02]

Minister for Transport (Mr. Brennan): Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan I propose to take Questions Nos. 398 and 400 together.

I am very much aware of the problem of crowding on our railway network, including services in north Kildare and I am conscious of the [292] discomfort and inconvenience this causes to passengers.

Iarnród Éireann has a statutory responsibility for ensuring the safety of its passengers. It is, therefore, a matter for the company to satisfy itself that the number of passengers being carried in any particular train or carriage does not compromise overall passenger safety.

Data provided by Iarnród Éireann shows that over the period from 1994 to 2001, passenger numbers on all suburban services increased from 18.8 million to 22.7 million. In order to address this growth in traffic, significant funding has been, and continues to be, made available to Iarnród Éireann for investment to improve the safety of the network, increase the passenger capacity of the system and improve the quality, reliability and speed of services.

However, the railway inspectorate of my Department continues to monitor developments in regard to crowding on trains. The inspectorate has been in contact with Iarnród Éireann on a number of occasions drawing its attention to the importance of keeping the issue of crowding under review.

The Railway Safety Bill, 2001, which is at Second Stage in this House, will require all railway undertakings, including Iarnród Éireann, to implement a formal safety management system and to describe that system in a document called a safety case. The Bill will require a railway undertaking to identify in its safety case all issues impacting on the safety of its operations. Such issues would include its strategy for managing crowding of trains. The railway safety commission, to be established under the Bill, will need to be satisfied that the overall safety management system is adequate to ensure the safety of passengers.

As regard increasing capacity on services, Iarnród Éireann have ordered 80 diesel railcars for use on suburban services. These will begin to be delivered from December next and should be in service by mid-2003. The ongoing delivery of this new rolling stock will increase the available capacity to deal with peak periods and should help to alleviate the present crowding difficulties.

With specific regard to the capacity of the Maynooth line, Iarnród Éireann have informed me that they intend to allocate a number of the new diesel railcars to the route thereby increasing capacity by 24% and removing the older Craven carriages which are unsuitable for commuter services.


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