Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport Robert Troy TD says he is concerned by reports that Irish Rail is considering closing a number of rail lines due to ongoing funding difficulties.
Deputy Troy has called on Minister for Transport Shane Ross to take decisive action to help Irish Rail overcome its current funding difficulties.
Deputy Troy said, “The recent reports that management at Irish Rail are considering closing a number of rail lines to help ease funding difficulties is deeply concerning. Irish Rail should be focusing on growing rail services, but instead management seem transfixed on wanting to axe as many routes as possible. Closing rail lines may offer a temporary reprieve to funding issues, but ultimately it only serves to hollow-out the company in the long run which will only exacerbate the funding crisis.
“It’s deeply disappointing that Minister Ross has decided to sit back and watch the difficulties at Irish Rail unfold without taking any corrective action. He has known about the difficulties facing the company for well over a year now yet he has not come forward with any solutions to help stem losses at the company, let alone grow rail services in the years ahead.
“It’s astonishing that Irish Rail is considering closing the Gorey to Rosslare line considering its strategic importance linking Rosslare Europort to the capital. The Government has recognised the need to enhance Rosslare Europort in light of the challenge posed by Brexit. This will be impossible to achieve if they Gorey – Rosslare rail-line is axed.
“Fianna Fáil made a comprehensive submission to the National Transport Authority last year as part of the Rail Review 2016. Our submission sets out the need to increase the Public Service Allocation to Irish Rail alongside increasing the funding under the Free Travel Scheme which has effectively been capped since 2009. The Government needs to recognise that it is impossible to grow rail services without making the necessary investment.
“Under investment in transport infrastructure is particularly acute in Ireland, as is evident by the fact that our level of capital spending is the second lowest in the EU. Despite having the fastest growing population in the EU, spending on infrastructure is half what it was 7 years ago. This is simply unsustainable and the Government needs to take corrective action.
“Minister Ross should be putting forward a comprehensive case to his cabinet colleagues for securing funding from the European Investment Bank for critical transport investment. Unfortunately he has failed to do so to date and has instead focused on interfering in the work of his colleagues rather than focusing on his own Department,” concluded Deputy Troy.