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Written Answers. - Rail Safety.

Tuesday, 26 November 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 1

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 399. Mr. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  if he has satisfied himself that adequate safety standards apply on all commuter trains operating out of rail stations in north Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23768/02]

[293]Minister for Transport (Mr. Brennan): Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan Iarnród Éireann has a statutory responsibility to manage its railway safely. The company has assured me that all railway services on its network operate to strict standards, which are in place to ensure the highest level of safety for its customers and staff.

This Government places the highest priority on the safety of our railways and is carrying forward two very important railway safety initiatives started by the previous administration. These initiatives, when complete, will greatly enhance the safety of our railways.

The first of these initiatives is the railway safety programme which was approved by Government in March 1999. This safety investment programme involves investment of €546 million over the five years 1999-2003. Already this programme has seen over €400 million invested to date and has transformed many parts of the railway. By end 2001 Iarnród Éireann had replaced 246 miles of track with continuous welded rail, permanently closed or made safer 371 level crossings and renewed 228 bridges. Significant funding has also been made available under the programme for works to cuttings and embankments, fencing and to the improvement of safety management systems. Further significant funding is being made available to Iarnród Éireann under the programme in 2002 and 2003 for continuation of this initiative.

I also intend in the near future to re-convene the railway safety task force to make recommendations for a new five year railway safety investment programme to commence in 2004. The second of these initiatives is the Railway Safety Bill, 2001, which is continuing its Second Stage debate in this House tomorrow. This Bill, when enacted, will modernise the railway safety regulatory framework by establishing a railway safety commission to regulate and enforce railway safety and investigate railway accidents. The Bill also places duties on railway undertakings, their staff and third parties and requires railway undertakings to put in place formal safety management systems.

Question No. 400 answered with Question No. 398.

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