Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar, needs to explain why he suddenly withdrew the subvention for CIE, which has now raised huge question marks over the future of the company.
Fianna Fáil Transport Spokesperson, Timmy Dooley TD, has expressed his concern at the fact that the bailout promised to CIE in July by the Minister has suddenly been withdrawn.
“We heard in July that CIE was in dire need of the €36 million to prop up its services for the year. CIE sought and received the subvention to be able to survive in the short-term and avoid significant cuts to its services.
“How does the Minister see CIE making the necessary savings for the next two months? Unless I am missing something major, the circumstances for CIE have been gradually getting worse this year, with price hikes contributing to falling passenger numbers.
“Why hasn’t the Minister made a statement on this? Why is this shrouded in secrecy?
“Cutting off this subvention for CIE could spell disaster for public transport in this country. CIE has cut services on many rural and urban rail and bus links in order to balance its books.
“Iarnród Éireann and Dublin Bus face a deficit of €40 million this year. All three entities in CIE have reported falling passenger numbers, yet the Minister has allowed massive price hikes. When he was in opposition Minister Varadkar hit out at fare increases; this seems to have changed now he is in Government.
“This whole episode has revealed a lack of planning, and a lack of understanding of the most basic economics. You can’t offer CIE this lifeline and then suddenly take it away without explanation.
“The Government has promised to introduce legislation to allow CIE to increase its loans to resolve the issue but building up huge debt and paying off interest will have a significant negative impact on the company being able to deliver an appropriate public transport service.”