Fianna Fáil has today published its policy strategy for the future of the rail network in Ireland. The ‘Strategy for the Future of Rail Ireland’ formed a central part of Fianna Fáil’s submission to the National Transport Authority (NTA) and Iarnród Éireann rail review consultation.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport Robert Troy TD commented, “Our submission outlines in detail what will happen should the Government fail to invest in our rail infrastructure in the coming years. The rail network across the country is currently struggling due to a lack of investment. Speed restrictions will need to be introduced in the near future if this trend continues, which will lead to an increase in journey times and a collapse in reliability.
“It is beyond belief that the Government is considering closing rail lines at a time when we should be ramping up investment in public transport. It’s clear that Minister Ross has absolutely no long-term vision for developing our rail network. This is despite the fact that preserving and enhancing our rail network is key to the future development of the country.
“Now is the time to invest in fixing our rail infrastructure and to build critical transport projects, such as the DART Underground. The development of the rail network has to be central to any policies aimed at reducing car dependency and traffic congestion. The ongoing housing crisis is also being exacerbated by a lack of public transport options. We need to improve rail services to allow people live outside of our cities while at the same time being able to enjoy comfortable commutes to work.
“There is great potential to develop key radial routes which link all the regions of Ireland. The Government should also be looking to access the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) with a view to developing a new rail corridor to access EU markets via Rosslare – Europort in a post Brexit environment.
“Meeting these objectives will require a program of sustained investment in our rail network. Investment funding is available through the European Commission’s so called ‘Juncker Plan’. This program has up to €500 billon on offer over the next three years for infrastructure development. It is inexplicable that the Government has failed to submit a single transport project for consideration for funding under this plan.
“Through our submission we have set out a coherent vision for saving Ireland’s rail network. Making rail travel attractive and more reliable for passengers is at the core of our strategy. The objective of Government must be to boost passenger numbers using rail through a sustained programme of investment coupled with a more innovative strategy to enhance integration across the public transport network,” said Deputy Troy.