Midlands rail lines face axe over costs

Thursday, 31 August 2017

RAIL ROUTES through Tipperary and Laois could face closure after Irish Rail has earmarked four routes currently running at a serious shortfall.
The routes facing potential closure are the four requiring the largest State subvention per journey to continue operating, one of which, the Ballybrophy to Limerick line, runs through Roscrea, Cloughjordan and Nenagh.
Irish Rail revealed on Tuesday it could save €17.6-million a year by shutting down Limerick to Ballybrophy, Limerick Junction to Waterford, Ennis to Athenry on the Limerick to Galway route and Gorey to Rosslare on the Dublin to Rosslare route.
It is believed the closure of the Limerick to Ballybrophy and Limerick Junction to Waterford lines would yield over €5m a year each.
It said line closures are among the options mooted in a rail review by the company and the National Transport Authority if the required funding is not put in place by the government..
Tipperary Independent TD Mattie McGrath called for a more complete reassessment of the viability of the Ballybrophy to LImerick line.
“I think most of us accept that there are significant challenges in terms of justifying the continued operation of the Ballybrophy line when it appears to cost almost €800 per passenger," he said.
"Nine of the railway stations which will be closed are located across Tipperary and closing them would be a move that will not be tolerated by the people of Tipperary," Labour TD Alan Kelly, said.
Deputy Kelly, who was Junior Minister for Transport and was very outspoken in his support of the Ballybrophy line in the past, said that "Minister Ross and this Government need to get the message."
“The report that Irish Rail are looking at closing four railway lines, two of them going through Tipperary is nothing new. This has been mooted for many years and something I have fought against," he said.
Deputy Kelly said that tearing up infrastructure critical to Tipperary and inward investment was not acceptable at a time when, across the world "government's are looking at getting goods and the travelling public off roads and onto rail - while here we were looking at closing more railway lines."
“Have we not learnt any lessons from the closure of so many lines in the last century that would be so valuable now?" he said.
“This would be contrary to the Regional Action Plans for Jobs, the Government's Action Plan for Rural Ireland and indeed commitments the Government have in relation to climate change. What needs to happen was proper investment in both the lines. The lines were too slow, had too many crossings and did not have attractive services, with very little offering to commute to Dublin."
“I am asking the people of Tipperary to fight against these proposals. Having rail lines are very important for inward investment opportunities, so how could this Government say they have any interest in Tipperary if they allow this to go ahead."
Irish Rail says it costs €761.60 per passenger journey on the Ballybrophy line, which carried around 24,000 people last year.


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