Transport (Re-organisation of Córas Iompair Éireann) Bill, 1986 [ Seanad ]: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time".

I stated that decisions that have been made in the past by CIE concerning the closure of railway lines have usually been based on the premise that to withdraw a service or to replace a train by a bus is usually to save money but that has not been the result. I mentioned last evening the closure of the Sligo to Limerick Railway line in 1976. It was claimed that about £250,000 would be saved but that did not happen. It is a very good example of the kind of mistakes made by decisions taken to close down railways.

On the western seaboard we now have developments like the Connaught Regional Airport and the attraction of tourism, and a study has been done on this by the Galway-Mayo RDO in my own area. The Sligo-Leitrim RDO have done a similar survey. Groups like Enterprise Connaught are talking about an integrated approach to the development in the western area, so it is important that the railway be an integral part of that project. I hope the support that Enterprise Connaught have got from every county along the western seaboard will materialise in the Sligo-Limerick railway being maintained and restored, if possible through the Enterprise Connaught project being approved by the EC. All that organisation are looking for at present is the approval of a study and it will not cost the Government one penny because there are funds available in the EC. I hope the support that Enterprise Connaught have got will be continued by all the public representatives in the western region.

I mentioned yesterday the claims that were made for maintaining that railway line in order to link the western region with the south-west and mid-west regions and for having the very major link between Sligo-Limerick and Rosslare. There are other reasons that a railway is important in the western region. It would also link the Connaught Regional Airport with Cork, Shannon, Galway and Sligo airports. It is also important to have a rail link with seaports.

Nowdays there is the very important consideration of transporting dangerous substances. They can be transported more safely by rail than by road. The railway would also help to ensure that roads which are underdeveloped and over used would get some relief from heavy traffic.

The Galway-Mayo RDO group have pointed out the importance of communication with the Euro ports of Rosslare. Waterford and Cork. They have also pointed out that speed and time are involved in transporting goods safely and without pollution from heavy motorised road traffic, especially in built up areas. There is also the question of pilgrimages to the Marian Shrine at Knock which is close to the Sligo-Limerick line so it is important to maintain the rail service there also.

Other factors are job creation in the region and services such as warehousing, distribution, haulage, hotels, catering and tourism as well as the normal industrial and commercial expansion. The study this group have done on the railway line is important and is very relevant in the context of the Bill we are discussing here. What comes across very clearly in the study is the importance of the linkage between the bus service and the railway service. I would stress the need to have the provincial bus service and the railway line under the one subsidiary.

Much has been said about the role of private operators. They have certainly been successful. They have shown great imagination and have marketed their service in a very professional way, particularly that from Galway and the west generally to Dublin. They have also provided a very good service for people who have to travel up to 50 miles to work in the Industrial Estate in Galway. CIE have been very complacent in this area and have allowed a situation where the private operators have been successful. Late in the day, CIE decided to start that type of marketing themselves. They showed a bit more imagination in their schedules and on the routes and have now managed to get some of that market but for a long time they were not wide awake enough to what was going on. I am glad that they have now put on some services at attractive terms. This is very important for people who must travel long distances to work. It is a major area in public transport because of the cost of motoring in rural Ireland.

School transport is under the Department of Education but is organised, in practical terms, by the local area manager. That should be kept under constant review by the Department. The local area manager has a major role to play in the organisation of school transport, together with CEOs and the heads of schools. We have a very fine manager in the local Galway office, Mr. Fitzgerald, but any time I or any public representative contacts him he nearly always has to refer us to the Department of Education. We will not get quick practical solutions to problems until we give more autonomy to the local area manager. Many of the buses also need to be replaced. Perhaps some of the passenger buses could be used for school transport. I hope the Minister will tell us when such change might be brought into operation. I hope that the bus company in Shannon who built buses in the past will be allowed to continue to provide replacement buses.

I came across a situation recently where the Department of Education, after a lot of representations, sanctioned a school bus service in my own constituency. CIE advertised in the local papers for a driver for the service but before they got a chance to decide on a driver, the Department of Education asked us to withdraw the advertisement as we only had nine pupils and not ten. I think there were 11 pupils at the outset of that campaign to get the service but because a family moved away and because of a delay by the Department of Education in sanctioning the transport for the area the numbers fell to nine. Then the Department came alone and said, "We are sorry, you have a child too few now and we cannot give the service." That is what I am referring to. Because of the delay involved, the Department of Education in this instance delayed the sanctioning of the service and the service has been lost. Could CIE not be allowed to put on that service even for nine pupils and continue to operate it? In the months ahead we will probably have more than ten students who could use that service.

I will conclude on the problem we have had with timetables and the trains stopping and not stopping along the Galway-Dublin line. I want to give an example to the Minister of two stations, Attymon and Woodlawn, County Galway, which had been looking for a long time for a better service. Because of decisions made, we found that the trains were not stopping at these stations at times suitable for people travelling to Dublin. In fairness, let it be said that CIE have sorted out some of the problems with Woodlawn station but they still have to give a better service to the Attymon station as far as I and the people in the area are concerned. I hope that will be done and that the Minister will discuss with CIE the possibility of giving that service.

One of the problems we have with CIE is that we have local management and we have the management in Dublin. We have access to the Minister but the Minister usually refers all matters to CIE and we get maybe only one official point of view from the CIE management. Here I come back to devolution or giving more autonomy to local management. It would be much more practical and democratic at local level if the local manager could deal with the kind of situations I am talking about. As regards the service from the western area to Dublin, which I am sure the Minister knows about, I hope that will be improved. We have very fine people working in CIE, but one of the problems we have had in the western region is the type of trains on the route out of Dublin to the west. They are not of the same standard as the trains that go to the southern and northern regions.

The Bill before the House seeks to bring some improvements in the transport situation we have and it comes up with the proposal to have three subsidiary companies under the Companies Act. I believe this measure will do nothing at all to improve the transport infrastructure or the level of transport service.

The problem is that CIE in their entirety have been neglected by successive Governments over the years who have failed to provide the necessary capital which this company have required to re-equip adequately and to provide the national services which they are required to do by statute. That has been the major transport problem we have suffered from over the years. The Minister now brings in this measure to set up the separate companies structures as subsidiaries. How is it going to change anything? Where is the improvement going to be from setting up separate companies in this way, a separate company for Dublin buses, a separate company for provincial buses and a separate company for the railways? We will have three new boards set up with three new sets of directors. On what basis their appointments will come I do not know, but one can guess to some extent at any rate. Why is it necessary? What is the real object of the exercise? For the life of me I fail to see what that can be. There will be a cosmetic change in the set up, but here are CIE, an integrated transport company with responsibility for all the national transport right across the entire spectrum.

I can appreciate there are diverse functions in CIE. The running of Dublin buses is a separate entity. Country buses are a separate entity. No doubt there are divisions in CIE that can have organising committees of experts and leaders of the various sections on the maintenance of the buses, the running of the buses, the finances of the buses and so on. Committees can be formed of the various groups of workers, as probably is the case, to run these divisions. Of course there must be separate divisions in a large conglomerate like that, but what is the objective of formalising that into separate subsidiary companies? The Minister said it would bring more flexibility. I wish somebody would explain to me how that is to be. Where is the lack of flexibility in the present situation? Is there something in the articles and memorandum of association or the statutory rules of CIE as at present which impede their flexibility? Are there things they are not empowered to do? Are some magical new powers to be given to these subsidiaries to do things and to have a flexibility that is not there at present? I cannot see that. I should think there is complete flexibility in CIE as they stand at present because they have powers to control and deal with all aspects of transport and all the infrastructural matters that need to be carried out for that purpose.

It has been said that these subsidiaries will be a good thing because they are intended to compete with one another. The provincial buses will be competing with the railways. I suppose in a broad general sense that competition is a healthy thing. There is nothing wrong with competition, but is it not strange that you would have subsidiaries of the one company competing with one another? That is a new idea. I have never heard of that previously. Certainly the giant conglomerate commercial companies operate through subsidiaries but those subsidiaries are working in tandem, as part of an integrated system. You will not have one subsidiary of one company competing with another subsidiary of the same company. That does not make sense.

The matter arises in a kind of bastardised way from the McKinsey report which advocated a complete hiving off. I would condemn it outright, but at least one could understand the rationale behind it. I do not approve of the idea of having completely hived off separate entities competing with one another in the context of national transport but one can understand it. This mish-mash here falls between two stools and is not a recipe for progress in the field of our national transport organisation.

We have to make a decision on transport. This is something on which we have never been able to completely satisfy ourselves. This Bill will not advance us in that area. When we talk about transport and about running buses and trains to serve people, are we talking about running a business, like any other business, or are we providing a social service? That is the dilemma we have to face and which we have never faced. Transport services are not meant to be run as a business but as a social service to facilitate people who rely on them and to provide an efficient reliable service but most importantly, a cheap service. Once we accept that premise we should stop this talk about the size of the subsidy to CIE. If we run a cheap reliable service there will be all sorts of spin-offs. More and more people will find that the idea of taking a car is no longer attractive if a reasonably cheap good service is provided.

It has been said that there will be improvements in the transport system as a result of this measure. The reverse is true. The real effect of this measure has not been thoroughly worked out. A detailed analysis has not been produced in any of the base reports that went into this Bill or in any of the speeches in connection with it. It has been said that it is in the real interests of CIE but I have not seen a detailed analysis which can show me how it is in the interests of CIE. It is said that it will be a good thing for the staff of CIE but again that has not been set out in detail and there is no guarantee that it will protect the employment transfer from the existing institution or that it will create new employment. It has been said that in broad terms the Bill will be in the interests of the public and that this will improve matters. How will it improve matters? Spell it out, quantify it in a proper accountancy analysis. Where is the benefit for the public? It will not benefit the public at all. It will involve retrenchment in many of the services presently provided by CIE. It may entail very substantial job losses in CIE. It is said that it is a good thing because it may improve labour relations in CIE. If that is one of the pluses behind it, we are getting off on the wrong foot. The unions involved in CIE oppose the measure. They are dead against it because they were not adequately consulted. They are, according to information furnished to me, quite prepared to discuss the restructuring of CIE, to discuss the divisionalisation of CIE so as to have divisions running the various functions. They are not adopting a stick-in-the-mud attitude to this question but they have not been consulted about this structure and they totally oppose it. This kind of arrangement will have very adverse affects on our transportation system, it will reduce services and will not provide cheaper fares or a better level of service.

One must remember that CIE are on a different basis from the private bus operators about which we have heard so much. Private bus operators are an increasing factor which we must face. Is that factor taken into account? What are the proposals to deal with private bus operators? Has any indication been given as to how that facet of transport policy will be dealt with? How can any forecast or analysis be made of what the position will be for example with the new proposed provincial bus company or with the railways until one indicates clearly the Government attitude to private bus operators? On the Government attitude to that will depend the amount of business that will be done by the provincial buses and the railways. To date a clear indication of policy has not been given as to what is intended in the context of private bus operators. The present position is that private bus operators are springing up and operating all over the place. It is not a lawful operation in which they are engaged and the legal institutions of the State seem to turn a blind eye to that fact. The private bus operators refer to their situation euphemistically as taking advantage of a loophole in the law. I do not know what loophole they are referring to but my understanding is that they are not licensed and that controls are not exercised over their operations. There are no tests of their vehicles to ensure that they are safe or roadworthy and there are no regulations covering the number of driving hours a driver may undertake on these vehicles. They have many advantages which operate to the detriment of public transport. They are not obliged to and do not carry old age pensioners free. They do not fulfil any of the social roles that CIE fulfil in many respects. They are not obliged to and do not run their services to locations where it would be uneconomic to do so. They select routes where they can have full vehicles. They take the best routes and operate in these areas. They do not have the responsibility as do CIE to provide a service on a full geographical spectrum. That problem is emphasised by CIE in their annual report of 1985 in which the Chairman of CIE made clear in a statement in that report that it was not possible for any operator to provide scheduled services on the geographical scale, as is required of CIE at times, suitable to the public with standards of comfort and safety required by law and, at the same time, to make an acceptable rate of return on capital invested at no cost to the State. If we intend to run a transport company which will provide a service to the public, the idea of seeking return on capital investment is not on as that is not the object of the exercise. We will compound the difficulties if we insist on doing that because the level of service will have to fall. If fares were substantially reduced, as they should be, there would be increased usage and a greater throughput of finances.

Improvements are needed in the transport system but CIE should be left as they are. There is nothing wrong with the structure and if we want to have an national transport service, resources and capitalisation should be provided for the purpose. The Minister should ensure that CIE's competitors compete on a fair basis and that they also play a social role if they are given franchise rights for running services. To say that hiving off these divisions into separate limited companies will provide a magical result is not true. It is a cosmetic exercise which will not tackle our needs. This can be done within the structure of CIE as they exist at present. Committees can be set up by the key officials to run the various services needed. Before the House is asked to adopt this measure, the Minister should give clear undertakings regarding the staff position as a result of the setting up of these companies, what the level of fares will be and the ultimate results for the public. These things have never been thought through sufficiently by the two main parties in the State. Many members of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael put themselves forward as great advocates of the role of private enterprise and so on but they have not prepared a generalised transport policy.

I was rather amused to note from the report prepared by the Express Coach Operators' Association dealing with the private sector's input to public transport in which they analysed the position of the three main political parties on the question of transport. They said that Fianna Fáil do not have a transport policy. They said the same about Fine Gael and that the Labour Party oppose the breaking up of CIE and are totally opposed to private enterprise. Coming from this organisation, I presume that is intended as a criticism but I am proud to accept it as that is a correct reflection of the Labour Party position. I am sorry that the Progressive Democrats are not mentioned——

They are still evolving.

I am disappointed that at a time when we should be seeking to advance public transport all we are presented with is a cosmetic exercise setting up three limited crompanies within a structure that has all the facets already available to them in regard to flexibility and advancing the needs of the nation in the field of transport. I wish I had confidence that the change in format will do anything by way of providing employment or improved services but I very much fear it will not.

The Bill affords an opportunity to address some of the fundamental issues in transport and specifically, the role of CIE in that context. The Bill contains much ado about very little and misses the central and fundamental challenges in the transport area.

Deputy Taylor is right in saying there has been very little work done on transport policy. One of the things about the Bill which interested me, which the Minister proposes as a far-reaching measure, is that it appears to pre-empt the White Paper which we are told is on the way in regard to transport. I am not sure whether that says more about the White Paper than about the Bill orvice versa. What is clearly at issue in transport policy terms is that there is an absolute need for some mechanism to co-ordinate the various facets and elements which go into transport policy. To assess, analyse and propose a change in role and structure for CIE without that broader context makes for an artificial debate.

How can we rationally propose major changes in the structure of CIE if we have not already made decisions about transport policy as a whole? It may very well be that if we decide to have a co-ordinated transport policy — which most of us probably believe is essential — CIE's responsibilities in that respect might be fundamentally changed from those proposed or adverted to in this measure. The Bill underlines the essential weakness of dealing with CIE without covering transport policy generally. It is like dealing with part of the problem without making up one's mind about its scale or totality.

The Minister mentioned CIE's social role. I always felt it was very wrong of the House regularly to address the question of a commercial loss by CIE in the context of an organisation which was clearly intended to have predominantly a social responsibility. In many respects it is wrong to say that CIE make a financial loss unless their job is to be a commercial company exclusively. Any reading I have done on CIE does not indicate that. The fundamental point I wish to make is that this internal management restructuring of CIE is peripheral to the essential problem of transport policy. In a properly organised society it would not take up the time of the national parliament.

We should be dealing with the role CIE should have in terms of transport policy. This relates to the obvious need to co-ordinate public transport, rail and bus, private transport, car, freight, road development, regulation of road developments, investment in transport and infrastructure, taxi and hackney services, all the elements which make up transport policy and which have to be addressed. That to me is the question. Most of us would agree that at present it is not so much ships that pass in the night but that trains, buses and cars pass in the night and there is no co-ordination. In many cases the people concerned do not even speak to each other. It is as if they live in different worlds. There is, therefore, an urgent need to have a national transportation policy and an authority which will co-ordinate, in an efficient and cost effective resourceful manner, all those elements into one efficient dynamic unit which will serve the needs of the people. That is what we should be talking about but we are not, unfortunately, because this Bill misses the fundamental point. The Minister may say that that is not what this Bill is about but we have been promised for a long time that kind of fundamental reform.

To plan for CIE in isolation is artifical and to a large extent pointless. I do not know how the Minister can seriously say that his role with regard to CIE is in three aspects. First, that he has to get the subsidy right, that CIE must never again revert to the excesses of growth which characterised the seventies and that the correction process is well in hand but more has to be done: secondly, that the overall direction of the undertaking has to be got right and, thirdly, that service of the market has to be got right. What a limited and blinkered vision of what potentially could be the vanguard of a totally revamped transport policy and an organisation who could head up that type of development.

To give an example, lest anyone might think that one is theorising, on the lack of co-ordination we are speaking about, look at the present arrangements in relation to transport in Dublin city or in any other part of the country. The local authorities have their road plans. CIE run buses and they have their plans. The Garda Síochána enforce traffic regulations. I have often felt that is a marginal duty for them, that it should not weigh them down at all but should be given to somebody else. The Garda have their own independent existence. The taxi services and the private bus services all operate independently. Depending on what financing and planning CIE have they could affect, for example, the road plans but there is no co-ordination. Let us assume that CIE decided to invest heavily in city rail services, would that mean that medium and long term road plans by local authorities would be redundant? We do not know because nobody is bringing all these bits together. That is the first fundamental criticism I have to make of this Bill.

There is an urgent need to co-ordinate and regulate road and all forms of transport policy and this should be done under one corporate strategy, one clear policy developed in full consultation with all the interests involved and decided on by Government. That has not happened so far.

It is in that context that I want to make my second point. I would hope that a revamped and dynamic CIE could spearhead that operation. The general feeling in CIE about this Bill is one of fear. There is anxiety about its implications. Much of this has to do with the begrudging attitude which this House has expressed towards CIE and their employees. I do not know how CIE and their employees feel every year when they read about how much money the company lost. They have to provide essential services often in very difficult conditions and without appreciable public appreciation either among the populace generally or among their political leaders.

A new lease of life and a new sense of morale could be given to the company if they were given the responsibility, having been revamped and reorganised to cope with it, of spearheading that co-ordinated transport policy. I have no doubt that the workers in CIE would rise to such a challenge if they saw themselves as part of a plan and not as something which this House appears to tolerate and begrudge. The Minister says that the subsidy must never revert to the excesses of growth which characterised the seventies. That is the kind of school master approach which the employees of CIE have had to accept for years. Therefore, I do not wonder, having discussed this Bill, with the workers and unions, why they are afraid. They do not trust this House as regards their future. They feel unappreciated and that we are begrudging towards them. A national transportation policy spearheaded perhaps by CIE may provide some answers.

The third point I wish to make is that until such time as we have clearly assessed what CIE's social role is we will continue to have this artificial argument about commercial successVersus social policy. I recall asking on one occassion in this House that unemployed people be allowed travel free in off peak hours on the buses so that they could travel to interviews and search for jobs. That suggestion was rejected because of the fact there was no commercial advantage to CIE. Some would say that the suggestion sounded like good social policy sense. I do not see any such role of CIE defined either in the Bill or in the Minister's speech, though he refers to it in his speech. What kind of decision making process went into cutting off train services to rural parts of this country? That decision was made in a commercial context, because those services cost too much. What cost too much? Did it cost too much to provide that service or did it cost too much to continue to meet the social obligations we have towards the people of those areas? There is no basic philosophy within which those decisions are being made. I do not know how anyone can operate in that vacuum. I would see the social policy of CIE as being extremely important.

I would like to say also that in the context of a national transport policy, with the social basic philosophy of CIE having been defined, I see a major potential role for public participation and ownership. I simply fail to understand how people have this incredible view that because some group of people, perhaps pensioners with their savings or ordinary workers who might have managed to put aside a few pounds, who might want to buy into CIE or to help the company by investing in them reaping a reward in due course, financially and otherwise, are regarded somehow as enemies and ideological outcasts. What kind of nonsense is that?

There are those who might ask the fundamental question, what exactly the State is doing running trains and buses anyway. The reason is, as Deputy Taylor pointed out, that there are many areas which need these services but would not have them unless they were provided by a socially conscious national transportation body such as CIE. Unquestionably there is a role for involving public investment, people with entrepreneurial investment potential, people who simply want to be part of a State company and people who want to invest in the future of the country. Why should they be excluded on some type of incredible ideological grounds when the joke is that the alternative is precisely the same basic investment except that it has to come through the channel of the Exchequer. That is taxpayers' money with the expense and the cloak of bureaucracy tagged on. I cannot understand that mind-set. People who may make such suggestions are seen as fringe people interested in taking over the State or hostile to its interests but that is nonsensical.

My philosophy, and the philosophy of my party, is that the State is the guarantor of last resource, not the guarantor that rushes in immediately to strap things down, to tie things up and lock things in invariably and inevitably at major expense. The truth is that the State should justify its involvement in the transport area in the same way that it should justify its involvement in any other area of commercial, human or social activity before it gets involved. There is a role for the State in transport policy but that is not the same as saying that there is not a role for anybody else. Why should those who are presently operating legally and properly run privately owned buses not have a role to play in a transport policy? It might be possible to save public funds if we involved all the transport resources in the State in such a grand plan. Would that not mean that there would not have to be the same level of investment in comparable but competing services under the aegis of CIE? What else would it mean provided there was a proper marriage of the various interests?

I reject out of hand the philosophy that says there is no room for ordinary people in the way the State runs things. Once those pieces have been put into place, a national transport policy and authority with a clear social philosophy outlined for CIE to head up such an initiative, the next step should be discussions about management structures and systems. That is the logical order and that is when one gets down to restructuring CIE. In principle I cannot see anything objectionable about CIE being so internally organised as to be able to efficiently and properly manage itself towards the achievement of stated objectives.

I do not take the Minister's point in his speech when he said that he had considered various options of whether these proposals could have been introduced without legislation. The Minister said:

Another option considered was the re-organisation of CIE's responsibilities as an internal CIE matter without new legislation. It was rejected also because such a response was not considered sufficiently far reaching to give the results desired.

The Minister has access to data that I do not have but I am not convinced of his argument. The proposal before us is essentially a management re-organisation model. The fact that it has limited companies set up by law is interesting but secondary. Essentially this is a question of how CIE organise themselves. It could be that there should be a number of small companies, not three, and I do not think it is an issue of major importance in that context or in the context of what I have outlined as my party's approach to this area.

I do not think we should spend too long arguing over the internal management model of CIE. Transportation policy throughout the world has been delivered to the people of different countries along certain clear lines. There are certain management models and systems that can be put in place. They are not myriad in number but they are available to us. It is perfectly reasonable to refine, update and develop management models in order to deliver the service one wishes to provide. I have to admit to an unease about what I am sure was not intended but what comes across to me as a slightly gleeful suggestion by the Minister that there would be within this new structure a type of internal competition between various parts of the national transport service. The Minister stated:

There are also I believe arguments based on what is seen as a threat within CIE — the threat of competition between rail and road services. This seems to mean that there must be no competition, irrespective of cost to the taxpayer or service to the public, as between CIE's rail and provincial road services. I utterly regret that approach. There must be some competition to ensure that each new operational company will be kept on its toes... The board will guard against reckless or ruinous competition between the subsidiaries.

That does not ring true. I do not know how on the one hand we can have a co-ordinated national transport body in separate management units but yet welcome and, perhaps, even provoke or encourage, competition between them. That competition will, inevitably, lose sight of the total objective which is the provision of an efficient transport service to the people in terms of the short-term interests of the individual units. There will be overlapping, duplication and waste and, therefore, waste of taxpayers' money in that process. I do not see the point of that type of attitude to the proposed subsidiaries.

One has to address the question of staff morale. The Minister felt the Bill will deal with that but I cannot see how it will. The discussions I have had with people in CIE indicate that that is not the case. The Minister admits the need to improve staff morale but he said that the route chosen by the Government for delivering the objectives — he has had a number of main objectives — is to keep the deficit under control without major disruption to services or employment and, secondly, to improve morale and the working environment generally in CIE. The Minister is aware that there is great resistance to the proposal to set up three companies as opposed to two and the reasons are not irrational. One union says that the possibility of unrestricted competition with the railway by the provincial bus services is causing great concern. The degree of competition could yield strange results. The unions made the point that earlier transport legislation had as its main aim the integration of our national transport resources where practicable and where, for example, there would be shared common facilities such as stations, depots, offices and so on. Has that attitude changed? Are we going to have separate entities, people setting up their own empires, their own independent republics, and in the interests of competition, playing ducks and drakes with the public? I do not know if that is a legitimate fear. It is one that has to be addressed.

The question of staff morale is not dealt with by restructuring. It is dealt with by clarifying the national aims and objectives of the company, by putting in place the systems which allow them to be achieved and by doing that in the context of a dynamic transportation plan which is clearly right for the people, in which CIE have a major role and CIE's workers have their own individual roles in that respect. They are afraid of this Bill, perhaps unnecessarily, but what is important is their perception that this Bill is not so much about giving them a sense of renewed purpose, but threatening them and their livelihoods.

The Bill is peripheral to the extent that it deals with CIE in isolation, outside the context of the broader transport issue. I do not know if it pre-empts the White Paper which obviously should be the basis on which legislation should be founded. If it does, its timing does not seem very logical. I shall come back again to the need for some Government to address the question of the social role of CIE, the absolute need to co-ordinate policy and the various elements that go into transportation and, in that context, to fully utilise every available private and public transport resource. All of these have a legitimate claim to be part of a national transport policy and to be treated with respect, not in some cases as some kind of ideological leper. All offer an opportunity, if we have the wisdom to grasp the potential, to bring them together into some sort of co-ordinated focus.

The Minister talks about the board of the company vetting the plans of the company, monitoring their performance, assessing their competing demands for investments and funds. I wonder whether they will fall between two stools, between the internal management reorganisation that is desirable and important in any evolving company and particularly one this size, or whether they will be three totally separate entities. If that is the case, how will any board be able to keep them in harness; if there are ensuing conflicts, will the board have a job in deciding certain priorities and allocations? The Minister also said that more generally the board will be expected to foster the development of a more commercial approach across the spectrum of the activities within the overall CIE remit. I do not think anybody could disagree with that provided it is taken in the context of CIE being an organisation with a fundamental social obligation. I should like that spelled out more clearly than has been done to date. There is one reference in the Minister's speech which does not define it.

I also believe the Minister is fundamentally wrong when he says that the smaller units should be susceptible to more effective management in a manner which is not possible in the case of very large and diffuse organisations and should contribute greatly to industrial relations. CIE might be somewhat large by Irish terms but they are extremely small in terms of national transporation models, or even regional transportation models, all over the world. It is diffuse, but that is not the fault of CIE. It is because this House has never defined the job of CIE and because, by and large, we would prefer that it would go away. The perception of CIE on the part of the House is largely that of an organisation continually with their hand out. Size does not have any necessary direct bearing on an organisation being diffuse or having nebulous objectives. That is a matter of definition, of clarity, of transparency — not a matter of size.

I would appreciate it very much if the Minister, when summing up, would talk briefly about the White Paper on Transportation Policy. There are many features of transport policy in this country which are unique and unusual; of course, in Ireland we claim to be pretty unusual in most respects. If we look at the international comparison of road networks published in Irish Road Statistics by the Confederation of Irish Industry in 1985, we see that the length of road per 1,000 road vehicles is well over twice as long as that of other countries. Somebody one time explained that to me in terms of the famine, or the public works schemes of that time — that roads were built all over the place. The fact is, they are there.

There are transport needs crying out to be dealt with and I should like to see CIE being fundamentally involved in that. I should like to see CIE workers taking pride in their work again, buses not polluting the city streets as they do at present and staff happy in their tasks, being paid properly, being part of an organisation with a clear role, a clear dynamic, a clear sense of purpose and being in co-ordination with all other areas of the transport network and perhaps, in CIE's case, heading that initiative. However, we are not going to see that from this Bill. Perhaps the Minister may say that other legislation will deal with that in due course. I do not believe there will be any more transport legislation in the lifetime of this Dáil. This is the only chance we have to discuss this issue. In principle, the fears of the employees should be addressed, particularly their reasonable anxiety about competition between provincial bus and rail services. There they feel, with some rationale behind it, that there would be not just competition, which is not what they fear — they are not objecting to competition between Dublin city bus and rail — but that the test will be unequal and inevitably one will wither and possibly die. That would not be to the advantage either of the public or, in this case, the employees about whom they are quite right primarily concerned. That is a fear and it should be addressed.

I look forward in due course to the Minister perhaps taking up some of these points. In particular I want him to address my fundamental question, which is, how can one deal rationally and logically with a national transportation service and plan for its future when there is no transport policy, when there is not even a White Paper published at present in that respect? What will CIE's role be then, or is it possible that it might conceivably be changed again in the near future pursuant to the publication of a White Paper?

I welcome the Bill. It shows the courage of the Minister in tackling the age-old problem of making our national transport company, known as CIE, viable. Since CIE were founded on 1 January 1945 to take over from the provincial companies known as the Great Southern and Great Northern Railways and the Dublin United Tramways Company, we have not seen any great saving to the Exchequer. Rather have we seen an escalation of financial injections each year to keep this giant dinosaur of a company in existance. If there is to be a future for a viable transport company here, it must come from the policy as outlined by the Minister.

The formation of the three new operating subsidiary companies, with CIE as the parent body, can and will initiate a new dynamic approach to the transport problems of the State. As outlined, the companies will cater for the railway system, the Dublin city bus services and the provincial bus services. The problems appertaining to the provincial bus services are as different as chalk and cheese to the problems appertaining to the Dublin city bus services and very different from the railway problems.

We must ensure that our transport companies are geared towards meeting the demands of the general public. I refer to the service provided in the Kilcrohane Peninsula in west Cork. The one day per week service proved very popular when it was operated on Friday but for some unknown reason it was changed to Saturday and then lost its appeal to the general public. It is easy to understand the reason. There are no banks, administrative offices or legal offices open to the public on Saturday. Surely the people of rural Ireland, and particularly the people of the Kilcrohane Peninsula, deserve better recognition by CIE. The people who live in that peninsula have been contributing their share of taxation to give a State subvention to that company for the past 42 years. I hope there will be a rapid change in procedures when the new provincial bus company is formed and that the views and wishes of the general public will be adhered to as far as possible. It is an old-fashioned fact that the customer is always right.

The Minister must also be congratulated on introducing legislation to transfer the Great Southern Hotels to CERT in 1984 and also on the transfer of the canals earlier this year to the Office of Public Works. This was a step in the right direction and I look forward to both enterprises progressing.

Although the DART service is among the most advanced of its kind in the world, I have still to be convinced that it warranted the colossal expenditure of £113 million, while many of our provincial buses are bone-shaker vehicles which are in urgent need of replacement. Some CIE school buses are so worn out that very often school children in my constituency have to walk to school because these obsolete buses have broken down.

I welcome the Minister's statement that 800 new buses have been purchased since 1980 at a cost of about £100 million. Also 52 new tour coaches have been acquired by the board for this year's tourist season and the CIE cross-Channel super bus service. I am amazed that in the so-called booming seventies the replacement of buses was not a priority. It was left to our Coalition Government to carry out this task under severe financial constraints. I am even more amazed that there is not one member of the Opposition front bench listening to common sense and facts appertaining to this very important service.

We will pass it on to them.

I should like to ask Opposition Deputies who are so critical of our Minister's decisions why they did not display the same concern during the 12 years from 1970 to 1982 when the CIE deficit increased from £3.234 million to £109.373 million. It multiplied by a factor of 33.8 per cent — over six times more than inflation in that period. No wonder our Minister on assuming office in December 1982 set to work immediately on tackling the financial problems confronting the company. Simultaneously he began to look at the possibility of re-organising CIE in the context of the McKinsey recommendations.

I admired the decision by the Minister and the Government in June 1983 to reduce CIE's cost to the Exchequer over a five-year period, paving the way for a new operating environment. The targets set by the Minister for CIE in 1983, 1984 and 1985 have not only been met but exceeded, with a surplus this year of almost £7 million. This is a vindication of our Minister's and our Government's courage in tackling the problem of 40 years of mismanagement. The 1985 results reflect the hard work put into CIE during the past three years and they are again on target for 1986.

Of the normal Exchequer subvention of £104 million for 1986, the railways receive £75.6 million, DART receives £7 million, Dublin bus services £16.8 million, provincial city bus services £2.1 million and other provincial bus services in rural areas £0.3 million. The canals are to receive £1.4 million and the Galway-Aran ferry receives £0.8 million, almost three times as much as the provincial bus services in rural areas.

I must congratulate the drivers of our rural buses. Many of them operate a service which covers over 200 miles per day. I congratulate them on their efficiency, dedication and courtesy which they display on those arduous routes. It is something of which we can be very proud.

I am amazed that the Dublin bus services needed £16.8 million last year and the provincial city services needed £2.1 million. Should the company not explore the possibility of introducing a two week off-peak travel card for Dublin and provincial city services? This system has been operated in Great Britain with very good financial results. This off-peak travel card could be used from 9.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. It could be offered at a very attractive rate, say, £3.50 per two weeks. This would be of immense benefit in generating a huge amount of interest in these services.

CIE was established on 1 January 1945, resulting from the dissolution of the Great Southern Railways Company and the Dublin United Tramways Company Limited. The undertakings of the dissolved companies were transferred to Córas Iompair Éireann. What did CIE give to our constituency in those early days? What did the late Fianna Fáil Minister do for my county?

Speak lightly of the dead.

Do not rattle bones.

What did the late Fianna Fáil Minister do to keep the rail transport system in south-west Cork? In 1950 that railway system was scrapped completely. South-west Cork is one of the few constituencies without one mile of rail service.

To whom was it sold?

Everybody knows to whom it was sold. It went to a middle-Eastern country where it is probably still operating satisfactorily. What rescue package did south west Cork get on that occasion? Not even one mile of the area was classified as a national primary route although a national railway system was taken from us almost 35 years ago——

——yes, and to an under-developed country. What had the Fianna Fáil Administration against my area?

They were getting no votes.

I see the damage which has been done by articulated trucks of 30 and 40 tonnes, together with trailers, which travel the 140 miles of my constituency. Look at the damage they have done over the past 20 or 30 years to the roads in my constituency. Look at the damage they have done to the bridges there. There is not one bridge which was not shattered when the railway system was taken from south west Cork and everybody knows we got nothing in return. There was no rescue package spoken of that time.

What about Chevron?

For 30 years we were the forgotten people and we still have not got one mile of a national primary route. This is a disgraceful state of affairs. Successive Governments and Ministers left south-west Cork without one mile of national primary roads.

CIE had three aims: first, to get the subsidy right. I congratulated the Minister when he said that we must never again revert to the excesses of growth that characterised the booming seventies when we borrowedad lib. We are now paying £4.7 million a day interest to repay the borrowings of the 1977-81 era.

Do not get into that area——

Money was thrown around like confetti all over the country but——

Please stay with the transport Bill.

——nothing was done to upgrade the transport system in my constituency, or in any other part of the country.

What are the Government doing with today's borrowing?

Second the overall direction of the undertaking has to be got right. Again I congratulate the Minister; third, services in terms of the market have to be got right.

What about Chevron?

Fianna Fáil have nothing to boast about so far as the transport system in my constituency is concerned.


That has nothing to do with Schull pier.

They were promising it in every election but it never came off.

Deputy, please keep to the Bill.


Please allow Deputy Sheehan to continue without interruption.

In 1985 CIE received £20.6 million from the Department of Education for school bus services. I wonder if it would be to CIE's advantage if this service was provided by private contractors so far as possible. A lot of red tape and restrictions as regards the suitability of roads for rural school buses seem to have come into line. I am amazed that objections have been made by CIE to operating their school buses on rural roads in my constituency, roads that should be suitable for vehicular traffic but which for some unknown reason the transport manager of that company has turned down. The Minister should consider transferring the school bus services to private contractors. I wonder if CIE would be just as well off without this £20.7 million which the Department are providing for the school bus services? If this subvention were given to private contractors, we might get a better service, especially in rural Ireland.

It is also very informative to note that in 1985 CIE got £1.9 million from the Department of Defence and £23.8 million from the Department of Social Welfare to provide travel for invalidity pensioners, recipients of the disabled person's maintenance allowance, blind adults and persons aged 66 years and over. My friends across the floor may be critical and say we are not doing enough, but we still contributed £23.8 million as a subsidy for free travel for the unfortunate sections of our community.

Give them a few bob for Christmas.

We gave them more than Fianna Fáil ever did.

When Fianna Fáil Fáil were in power nobody got the old age pension until they were 70 years of age.

They have no money to go by bus to visit Santa Claus this year.

The setting up of the companies will introduce greater flexibility into the CIE organisation, with each having their own board of directors whose objectives will be influenced by the more limited mandates of the individual companies and with managements closer to staff and operations. I agree with those sentiments. It is only fit and proper that staff should have a certain input into the operation of the company. This is a step in the right direction.

It will be the responsibility of the board to agree their annual budgets, including capital investment with the board of directors of the subsidiary companies, to ensure the subsidiaries achieve any financial targets set for them and to provide an assessment of the performance of the operating companies in the board's annual report to the Minister. I warn the Minister that I do not want to see an erosion or curtailment of provincial bus services because they are part and parcel of rural life. The people living in rural areas who are provided with only one service a day, or even service one day a week, should be given a guarantee by the Minister, the Government and by CIE that that service will be maintained.

The Minister proposes to limit the membership of each new board to six members and to include two of the four members elected to the board of CIE by the CIE work force as directors in each of the three subsidiaries. This is a step in the right direction. I have no doubt that it will bring sanity to those boardrooms when discussions of the services to be provided are taking place. The value of worker directors on State boards is now clearly established. In order to avoid a situation that would cut across the electoral arrangements in CIE, the provisions of section 14 ensure that the new structures maintain intact the CIE procedure of electing worker directors to the board. The Minister said also:

The escalation of CIE's losses between 1969 and 1982 was all the more disastrous when it is considered that overall employment in the Board fell by nearly 4,000 in that period. I am glad to be able to tell the House that I have been assured by the Chairman of CIE that any further reductions will be achieved through natural wastage or, where necessary, by using the existing arrangements agreed with CIE trade unions concerning redundancies.

The Minister would need to keep a watchful eye lest the proposed companies become top-heavy with executives. We do not want a conglomeration of companies with a host of directors and assistant directors. What we want is an effective company dealing with the three main sectors of national transport, the railways, provincial bus services and the city bus services. The board and management will be dependent on the support of all the CIE employees in order to effect a smooth transition. I have no doubt the Minister will ensure to the best of his ability that that will be done. CIE and their employees have shown what it was possible to achieve financially in the company in recent years which should inspire confidence in their future plans. In this respect it is relevant to note that in 1985 CIE had one of their best years. Public confidence in the general transport services must be increased. This can be achieved by improving their quality and, especially, their reliability.

Is that why they are being broken up?

Perhaps it is better to break them up into small companies than to do away with a transport service in a constituency such as south west Cork which the party opposite did over 30 years ago. At least our Minister is endeavouring to maintain thestatus quo and, if possible, improve it.

There is an old cliché to the effect that CIE stands for Coming In Empty which we will have to discard. We must ensure that the public use the transport services provided throughout the country, that the charges are competitive and that the company provide a service to rural communities as well as to the citizens of the capital. I am amazed there is need for such a large subvention to keep the bus services in Dublin going and yet so little to keep them going in rural areas.

There are also arguments based on what is seen to be the threat of competition between the rail and road services. There is no fear of our having that competition in our constituency because we have not got a rail service. This seems to imply there must be no competition irrespective of cost to the taxpayer or of quality of service to the public. It must be realised that the taxpayer can contribute so much only by way of taxation. Let nobody fool themselves. No State-sponsored body can continue to spend recklessly at length — as happened from 1977 to 1982 until our Government rectified the position, rendering it a paying proposition. Facts speak louder than words——

People idle, closure of factories, no social welfare, no buses travelling, that is some record.


Order, please. A number of Deputies should not make a concerted effort to interrupt a Deputy. It is not reasonable.

I am pleased the Minister utterly rejects that approach to competition. There must be some competition to ensure that each new operational company will be kept on its toes, that each worker in each company will identify with the public. To my mind, competition constitutes the best formula for success; without it one will not be successful. Without competition there will not be a virile, sound, transport system in this country.

There is no competition in south west Cork.

There is no competition there as far as rail services are concerned. The Deputy's party made sure of that. The Minister must be congratulated on having achieved the wonderful result he has achieved in the past two years in the company. He has shown by his actions that the company can be made viable. He has shown that he has the courage and tenacity to tackle the problems confronting the company. Given a chance I have no doubt that the proposed three new companies will operate to the satisfaction of the general public. I believe the correct way of handling the problem is by breaking down such large companies into smaller, sectional ones. For 35 years under the one umbrella CIE continued to drift more and more into debt, asking for more and more of the taxpayers' money in order to keep going. With the formation of the proposed three new companies I have no doubt that parochial problems in each area will be better aired in their boardrooms than was the case in the boardroom of one mammoth company such as CIE.

Like other Deputies I, too, question the establishment of three companies rather than two, there being a strong argument in favour of only two in this reorganisation. It may seem strange that a Deputy representing a constituency without a yard of railway line should contribute to this debate. Indeed it can be said that the bus service is of a very marginal nature. Without even being able to listen to the tune, we have had to pay the piper down the years by way of the heavy subsidy provided for the operations of CIE. Bearing in mind the present high cost of maintaining transport, because of the high level of taxation, the increasing, ever crippling cost of insurance and the high price of fuel, very many people will have to review their position regarding transportation to and from their places of employment. It behoves those who provide public transport, whether it be a State company or the various private concerns, to make the most of their opportunities. People certainly have decisions to make. On a continuing basis we meet people who are unable to keep a car on the road. Some of them have to travel increasingly long distances to their jobs.

For many years it seemed, at least to the man in the street, that CIE were not making a sufficient effort to meet the needs of the public. CIE and various private companies providing public transport should be waging an aggressive compaign to attract more people to public transport. I fail to see why, if a satisfactory and reasonably priced service is provided, more people cannot be attracted to public transport. Previous speakers mentioned competition. Competition is essential and the stronger the competition the better for everybody, whether companies or individuals. With more people using public transport CIE and the various public transport concerns would all benefit by better financial returns and they could give a better service if more use was made of them. In addition, it would help to ease traffic problems on our roads and it would result in less need for subvention. It is time that there was less need for subvention from the public purse.

It should be kept in mind that a good public transport system is essential to our tourist industry. We must realise that visitors from abroad are in the main used to good and dependable public transport services. They will rate our facilities very poorly if the transport system is not efficient and dependable. While it would appear that CIE have made a major effort to be more effective and to provide a better service it still has a long way to go. A continued effort must be made at the level of management and of workers. For many years management have failed to show the proper drive in seeking business. They spend much of their time demanding more protection from private enterprise instead of facing up to the opposition in the transport field. This failure lies at the root of many of the problems which CIE have encountered over the past ten to 15 years. I would like to be able to say that the workers cooperated fully in CIE's efforts to improve their service and efficiency. Unfortunately, evidence shows that the right spirit did not exist. In many cases the workers in CIE seem to have a recentment for the private sector in the transport field. This country cannot afford this conflict. We welcome competition but we do not welcome conflict between semi-State staff and private concerns. Both sectors in the transport field should be complementary and not in conflict. Restrictive practices should be eliminated if we are to get the best value for the money that is being spent. A substantial amount of money has been spent over the last number of years.

It is true that CIE are saddled with many routes which will always be uneconomic. they are required to maintain those services. The Minister proposed to break down the present structure of CIE and to form three companies but the logical approach would have been to form two companies, but only time will tell. I am always doubtful about any proposal that suggests that a miracle turnabout can be made by merely changing the structure at the top. Too often over the last number of years in all sectors in the semi-State and private sector many concerns were unable to exist. It is said that by changing the management structure, by some magical wand everything will be changed. I doubt that, but again time will tell. Much more is necessary than just restructuring. If the three separate companies are to succeed in the tasks that have been set for them the following conditions must be met. A much more forceful marketing of the company's services should be carried out by providing the kind of service for our needs and by providing that service at a competitive price. Secondly, there should be substantially better industrial relations from both a management and worker aspect. One could not dwell long enough on this. It is one of the sad aspects at present, whether it be in transport or industry, that there is far more discontent between workers in reasonably secure jobs while many workers in the public service are working for substantially reduced wages compared to three years ago and they are content and satisfied to have a job. Thirdly, a constant review of services is needed so as to meet anticipated needs, coupled with a flexible approach by management and staff.

For many years CIE have lost out with the wide range of private bus operators, not just on price but also on flexibility. For many years the case has been made by CIE that the private bus operators operated at substandard and with very poorly maintained vehicles. If one was to view the fleet of private buses in a street fairly close to this House or in the square of any town on a Friday night they would see that the bus fleet is very well maintained. I am satisfied that CIE's failure to be flexible in providing this kind of service in addition to their charges have resulted in an expansion of this private fleet. We should pay tribute to the super bus service which apart from the revenue it earns for CIE is an excellent advertisement for the country. By going abroad and showing the flag abroad it would encourage visitors and would have an effect in other countries.

When looking at the breakdown of State subvention for CIE one cannot but be shocked by the substantial amount provided to support railways, other than the DART service in Dublin. The first reaction one would have is that they cannot afford to continue supporting the railways to that degree. While one can close down a bus route one year and on reflection restore it the following year, closing down a railway line tends to be a final and irreversible action. Up to the fifties in County Monaghan we had one of the best county rail services. There was the Dundalk-Derry line and the Belfast-Cavan line. The two lines formed a junction in Clones, very close to where I was reared. While we have been critical on many occasions about the withdrawal of the services, the economic conditions would probably have forced the closure of those lines at any time. I was involved in a firm in the early fifties when most companies, co-operatives and merchants were dissatisfied with having to go to railway stations to collect their goods, especially the increased tonnages of fertilisers and heavy goods of that type. Most of them went because transport costs were reasonably low and vehicles were reasonably priced, without the same rake-off in excise duties. In addition, CIE did not make the effort to modernise and meet that challenge. That is when fertilisers and feedstuffs and so on were first "palletised" and CIE did not shift themselves enough to get involved in this and in the container service. If CIE had made the effort to meet the demand there would not have been the same number of trucks being bought for which replacement parts are now very expensive. CIE failed to take up the slack with the result that private operators took over the transportation of goods.

We must maintain a railway network. With modern management and a flexible approach by workers the railways could give a greater return than they do at present. In order to avoid competition between the rail company and the national bus company, the Minister proposes that the majority of the directors of the two companies should be common to both companies. On balance I think that is a bad solution. It cancels out the prime advantage of having separate companies and I ask him to reconsider his proposals. We need a strong element of competition. The Minister said when introducing the Bill:

Fears were expressed in Seanad Éireann about the risks which had been associated with competition between the rail company and the national bus company. In response, I agreed to introduce an amendment providing, in subsection (4) of section 11, for a majority of the directors of these two companies to be common to both companies. This should ensure that the boards of the companies will take full account of the interests of the individual companies in exercising their functions. I see these boards as executive in nature in the interest of efficiency and effectiveness...

I cannot agree with the Minister on that. I believe we would have been generating and creating in that area the element of competition which is so essential.

The Minister also said some other distressing things. He said:

The escalation of CIE's losses between 1969 and 1982 was all the more disastrous when it is considered that overall employment in the Board fell by nearly 4,000 in that period.

That is an indication of the overmanning that must have existed in that area when employment could be reduced at that extent. It happened at a time when the consumer price index was at 5.4 per cent and the deficit was increased by over £100 million or 33.8 per cent. It is an indictment of the company that that should have been allowed to happen. With the amount of goods being transported in the fifties, sixties and into the early seventies, I will never understand why there was not a more aggressive effort made to secure part of that market. They slipped up by not becoming involved in the trend of "palletisation" and container services.

Many speakers have referred to the social service aspect of CIE. In many areas the travel pass is worth nothing because there is no service to avail of. Many of the people who hold such passes live in outlying districts and have to travel long distances to towns on a weekly basis to draw their pensions: In any restructure of the service every area of the country should have a service even on alternative weeks because it is very unfair that people are unable to use their passes.

There is a problem with management and worker relations, and management must be called into question. The management of CIE is similar to the management in many semi-State bodies. The structure is too heavy. Empire building has been going on. The company concentrated on management structures which the country could not afford and now very serious cutbacks have to be implemented. The Minister should reexamine company structure. In all probability, my party will be submitting amendments at a later stage.

The operation of the national bus service in rural Ireland over the past number of years is a national scandal. Buses are being driven around rural Ireland empty and in many cases they only stop evey ten or 15 miles. Management should remember that rural Ireland is different from Dublin in that if one misses one bus one cannot get another. It is crazy to have ploughed so much taxpayers' money into CIE for this kind of service, which allows empty buses to be driven around rural Ireland. I call them "Wanderly wagons" but they are very expensive ones. At least "Wanderly Wagon" on RTE gives pleasure to children but the taxpayers get little pleasure from seeing their money spent in such a crazy fashion. Charles Bianconi, who set up his system many years ago, provided a fairer service to the people with no burden on the taxpayer at the time and I think his service arrived on time more often than the CIE trains and buses do. I have used the train frequently over the years since I came into this House and I am not a bit impressed by the manner in which the service is operated. A better service to the public should be provided and the taxpayer should be given some reason to believe that the money poured into the service is spent well.

I appeal to the Minister to look at the fares being charged on the bus and train services. Passenger fares on ships going to the UK have been reduced recently and I read in some newspaper that the Minister said that business on those ships had built up rapidly in the last few weeks. We are all delighted to hear that. It is sad to say that we have buses driving all over rural Ireland and old age pensioners and other people with so-called free transport find that it is of very little use to them if the bus passes them by. They cannot even go out to collect their old age pension on the so-called free pass that they have. Buses travel from Cork to Dublin every day and five days out of the seven there is scarcely a person on them because they do not stop to pick up any passengers. I am not blaming the present Minister. This system has been in operation for many years. Buses whizzing past small towns and villages do not stop between A and B and there could be 15 miles between them while people are trying to get into or back from the local town and cannot do so. The system should be changed to accommodate the people and to allow paying passengers as well as people with free travel passes to use them.

About £112 million was poured into CIE in 1985. I am not suggesting that all is bad in CIE or that all the people who operate the company are bad. There are some excellent people in CIE from the top down, but the system is a little crazy, to say the least. It should be more flexible. Area managers should have more authority to adjust the service to meet the needs of their areas rather than having a kind of blanket policy.

I would not like to see anything dire happening to the railway line between Limerick and Rosslare. It cuts across the heart of Ireland and provides a good, very important service for tourism and agriculture, our two most important industries. I hope that when we move out of this terrible recession and unemployment our tourist trade and agriculture will improve. That railways line is very important. Alarm bells were set ringing in the last few years to suggest that that line would be closed down. That would be a terrible mistake. When we drive from here to Cork, Donegal or any place else and see the state of our roads with potholes, bad bends and so on, we realise that we should do everything possible to keep as much traffic as possible off them and perhaps avoid a number of fatal accidents on them. At times it is a nightmare to drive from here to Tipperary. Parts of the road are not as good as one would find on the county roads. You need to watch where you are going and the rate at which you are driving. CIE should provide a better passenger service with reduced fares and a better freight service. Some business people told me recently that it was crazy to send anything by CIE because the cost of doing so is outrageous, particularly for small parcels and boxes. Most of that business is going to private enterprise because CIE are not competitive.

The condition of our passenger trains leaves much to be desired, and I speak from experience of using the trains over the years. The lack of cleanliness at times — not always — is embarrassing particularly if there are tourists on the trains. At times the trains are filthy, and a greater effort could be made to clean them.

On Thursday and Friday evenings the trains going to Cork from Dublin are packed to the doors with women and children in particular many of whom have to stand as far as Limerick Junction at least, where I get off the train. One very wet evening the roof of the train was leaking — the train was more like a cattle train than anything else. A woman with three young children went to the first class carriage and she was told that she would have to pay so much a head extra. I do not know what the amount extra was. Perhaps £1 or £2. I am not blaming the gentleman who told her so. That woman told me that one of her children had been in hospital that day and that she had to bring the other two young children with her because she could get nobody to look after them. She had to stand for quite a while until some gentleman got off the train at some point and then she could sit down.

It amazes me that such a thing should happen. Surely the people operating those trains should have authority when there is overcrowding and nobody is using this ghost first-class carriage to allow those passengers into it. A little common sense is necessary here. Are those passengers classed as second class citizens? Nobody would be using the first-class carriage and it would be known when the train was leaving Dublin that that was so. This happens on that train every week and probably on every train that goes to the west or south. I ask the Minister to look into this.

All that I have mentioned can be considered very serious faults in the system and do not encourage people to use the railways as they would like to use them. The fares are steep enough and passengers would at least like to be able to sit down. Perhaps a few extra coaches or an extra train could be put on on a Friday evening if the business is there. Students and many people from rural Ireland go home for weekends thus causing crowding. On a number of occasions I have heard people complaining to the ticket checker and he says that it is not his fault. Surely the people at the top must see the need for a few extra carriages or an extra train.

CIE should look at the timing of trains and buses in various areas, particularly in rural areas as there have been complaints about this. The prices for the dining services on our trains are outrageous. The price for a cup of tea and a bit of homemade bread is a rip off. The Gresham Hotel would provide it cheaper. In the bars on the trains it is very difficult at times to get Irish made whiskey or any kind of spirits, beer or minerals. That is sad when we have so many people unemployed. We have been told that Irish firms have tendered for those things. Surely we can complete with foreign companies in providing soft drinks and so on. Tourists take a dim view of us when we complain about unemployment while in a national service like CIE we cannot see to it that Irish produced goods are available on the trains. The Minister should look into that aspect. Cheaper fares would encourage more tourists to use the trains and buses. There is no point in having buses and trains running empty. It is a false economy which is costing taxpayers money and giving them little in return.

I have no axe to grind in relation to the school bus service. The area managers are doing as much as they can and they are always co-operative and helpful even though the system is a bit crazy. I pity the drivers of school buses. If, 30 years ago, we saw one of those big buses coming down a country road we would have thought that the driver had gone astray. I would not drive one of those buses down one of our narrow roads with its bends and potholes and untrimmed hedges, for £1,000 a day. The drivers are marvellous but it is dangerous for the drivers and for the 50 or 60 children on those buses, to use such big buses on such small roads. One often comes across a school bus and farm machinery jammed on the road with neither able to get past. That must be a nightmare for the driver and the children. I hope there is not a serious accident with a school bus on one of those narrow roads as these buses are only made of fibreglass and would fold up in a bad accident. When replacing some of the school bus fleet the Minister might consider some of my points. I pay tribute to those who operate the private school bus service. Those people provide a smaller school bus and an excellent service although even with the smaller bus it is difficult to avoid accidents because of the state of the roads.

In relation to the heating on trains, sometimes on a summer day the heating is turned on and one could fry a rasher on the passenger seat but on a cold winter evening one will find the wind whistling in through the windows and the heating not turned on. Nobody seems to care. That is one of our failings. In major State organisations such as CIE nobody seems to care who is inconvenienced. Is it any wonder we have thousands unemployed? All these things leave a bad impression and lead to a loss of money. When one complains about the service the complaint is passed from one to the other, gets lost along the way and nothing is done for months. The Minister should see to it that the managers in each area are given the power to deal with that sort of complaint on a daily basis without having to resort to paper passing along the line. It is important that the heating on the trains is regulated especially for old or very young people.

Some of our railway stations are a credit to the station masters and to CIE but most of them are gloomy and filthy with rubbish dumped beside them. It is a scandal that tourists should see loads of rubbish dumped near the stations by CIE management, old broken wagons and so on. It would not cost very much money to make a little effort there. If some station masters can do it, there is no reason the rest of them cannot. It would help to brighten our image.

I hope the Minister will see to it that we will not have wanderly wagons going around empty, and that some effort will be made to give an opportunity to people to use the buses which are costing the taxpayer money. I do not blame the present Minister. I know this has been going on for a number of years. I know there is a rapid service, but on some routes it would not take half an hour if the bus stopped to pick up passengers instead of driving non stop for 15 miles with nobody on the bus. It does not make sense. I am sure people in rural Ireland, particularly old people, would appreciate transport in order to get their messages or to collect their old age pensions.

As a pro-CIE Deputy I congratulate all concerned. I congratulate the Minister, the management of CIE and the workforce. I applaud their tremendous feat during the last four years in living within their subvention and in 1985 recording a surplus of £7 million. The Minister can take great credit for it. However, my congratulations are slightly tempered by the fact that he has spent a tremendous amount of money on the locomotive works in Inchicore which were stolen from Dundalk through political expediency many years ago. In 1983 a sum of £3 million was expended on these works which rose to £14 million in 1986 for capital works. That underlines the value to a constituency of having a Minister with his hand on the purse strings. In the Border region we cannot even get money to put up signposts for those Ministers who do not know where we are. Lucky Inchicore.

CIE have been much maligned over the years although they achieved a remarkable feat in turning an alarming deficit into a surplus of £7 million. It reflects great credit on the management and the workforce. I note that between 1982 and 1985 4,000 people lost their jobs for one reason or another. However, it is very satisfying to note that assurances have been given that there will be no more redundancies except through natural wastage.

I was a little apprehensive about the continuation of rail services and I am very glad that there is no threat to them.

That is why all those coaches are being built at Inchicore and the Deputy should not resent money spent on them.

I resent everything about Dublin. Previous speakers referred to various ways by which CIE could attract more customers to the railway and bus services. The bus services face very unfair competition from private operators and in my area they ply a very lucrative trade. However, they do not supply a social service and CIE have to run buses on unprofitable routes in the Border region, in areas where private operators would not dream of going. That is very unfair. Private operators offer very attractive rates to people but if they did not have competition from CIE they would soon charge exorbitant prices. Many of these private operators work with indifferent insurance cover and I would be very fearful if an accident occurred. Their insurance should be checked.

CIE, especially in the Border area, are very anxious to compete with private operators. I understand a service is provided from Dundalk bus station at weekends on a voluntary basis which gives an indication of the commitment of the workforce in the area to CIE. They work from Friday night until Sunday night providing a very reasonably priced service to Dublin and they take no money for it. I applaud them for doing so.

I have a gripe in relation to the "coffin" trains operating from Amiens Street and Westland Row at 5.20 p.m. every evening. Security and safety regulations are very often not enforced. On several occasions I have been unable to board these trains, indeed one evening I was pushed off a train and had to wait for another. People cannot breathe in these trains and if there was even a slight derailment there would be great loss of life. I cannot understand why CIE will not provide more carriages to cater for the many people who use these trains every night of the week. It is especially bad on Fridays.

CIE should also make railway stations more attractive. The Malahide station should be emulated as it is very attractive and kept in good condition. There are also nice shrubs and flowers in evidence. That cannot be said about every station where facilities, in some cases, are well below par. The provision of newsagent shops and somewhere to have a cup of tea for those who have to wait is necessary. At one time in Dundalk there was a bar and a buffet. I understand that several people were interested in acquiring them. They would have paid a very good return to CIE and would also provide a service for the travelling public. CIE should look at that as a means of encouraging people to use the services provided.

I should also like to draw the attention of the Minister to the thousands of acres lying unused by CIE all over the country. If this land cannot be put to good use it should be sold and the money reinvested in CIE. Millions of pounds could probably be raised in this fashion. In Dundalk CIE have extensive lands lying idle which would fetch a handsome price on the market. It would be a means of acquiring badly needed money which could be used for rolling stock. I note that the capital provision for 1986 is £34.4 million mainly for new railway carriages and buses which are badly needed. We also need rolling stock for the railways. CIE should also provide more people to clean the trains and buses. Many young people on the dole could, for a little more, be given jobs in this area.

CIE have done a great job and it must be a great comfort and consolation to the personnel involved who have lived with the threat of the dismantling of various services. The Minister has done a good job and I look forward to continuing profits from CIE in the future.

I wish to express my compliments to the management and staff of CIE for operating a public transport service down through the years. We are all aware of how a semi-State body came to be in charge of public transport. At the time that happened transport in this country was in complete chaos. There was no cohesion within the transport systems and because cohesion was considered necessary in providing a social service to the nation, CIE were established. CIE did a good job in the circumstances in which they had to operate. It must be accepted that it was virtually impossible for them to operate on a profit-making basis. Circumstances have overtaken the transport scene in 1986 and perhaps did so earlier. The public transport system has been declining for a number of years.

The Minister in his speech indicated that the escalation in CIE losses between 1969 and 1982 was all the more disastrous when one considers that overall employment in the board fell by nearly 4,000 in that time. I would go further and say that the downrun of CIE started prior to that. They were not competitive in trying to attract new business. The public transport service they provided throughout the country left much to be desired, and there seems to have been no will within the organisation to develop the freight service. It is significant that the Minister stated in his speech that the road freight service will survive in 1986 because of how it operated in the past few years.

There is now an effort to contract the public transport service. When that happens there will be no public transport service in rural Ireland. Forty years ago in the county I represent we had five railways operating. There was the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway, the County Donegal Railway, the Great Northern Railway, the Sligo-Leitrim and the Northern Counties Railway and there was the railway known as the Clogher Valley Railway. There are now no railways operating in the north west region. We have no railway system operating in the Counties of Leitrim, Donegal, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Cavan or Monaghan. As will be seen from the map issued by CIE there are railways operating throughout the rest of the country. It amazes me to hear Deputies complain about the transport system and its inadequacies. I accept that they are entitled to look for efficiency in the transport system, but how would they like to represent part of the country in which there is no public transport system even though the people living in that region who pay taxes, subsidise the public transport system for the rest of the country? The Minister should take note of that aspect because the bus services provided for passengers from that region leave much to be desired. These buses operate from depots in which there are no facilities. The Minister should consider up-grading the service and should provide transport at a reasonable cost. We were led to believe when CIE was established and when in later years the Great Northern Railway Company and all the other railway companies were closed down that the local authorities would be subsidised for the upkeep of the road system in that region and that other benefits would accrue to us such as the provision of a transport service. A service was enjoyed and maintained there without any public finance but now we are without any public transport system in the region. While we have the express bus service to Dublin and Galway there is no provincial bus service. Neither is there any freight service within the region. As I have said, the freight services were run down by CIE because of how they were operated. They drove their customers away. Private operators are now providing a freight service from this city and from the rest of the country to north and west Donegal. CIE operate a service whereby they deliver freight to Sligo and contractors haul it from there to Donegal. I am firmly convinced that in 12 months time we will be back in this House debating a Bill on the closure of the freight services.

I would ask the Minister in his reply to give an indication as to what is the future for an internal transport system. There is anad hoc arrangement with the Lough Swilly Company who have been providing a transport service for 150 years in north Donegal. I hope that arrangement will be maintained. It is a service that has been supported and which has survived for 150 years against all the odds, even against the private operators.

Private operators have creamed off the bulk of the traffic. They go for the profitable routes, but they do give a very good service which CIE are now unable to compete against, particularly on the express routes. The management of CIE have got to reassess the position and to compete. That is what it is all about. Ultimately, we could finish up with the position which pertained at the time of the setting up of the semi-State transport company. I do not think we would want to go back to that position.

As regards a rail link with the north west region — there are now no railways in that region — there have been studies done on the operation of a rapid rail system between Derry and Dublin. There should be a link-up because that is the last link we have with the north west. A rapid rail link should be developed from Derry to Belfast with a link from there to Dublin. We have got to accept that because of their condition our roads are unable to carry the volume of traffic they are being asked to carry. There is a future for the development of a rail link system throughout the country. It could be promoted and utilised to a greater extent if the will and initiative was there to develop it. Competition is the key factor. If pursued properly there is a future for the development of a rail system, not alone for passengers but also for freight. This should be explored to a greater extent. I would have preferred to see the provincial bus service and rail service combined as one company with the Dublin city bus service as a separate entity. It appears the emphasis will be on the provincial bus service and that, once again, the rail service is being shoved aside. It has all often been said that the rail service was the money spender and the one section of the company that had to be carried. All losses down the years were put against that service and, consequently, we have had many calls to close branch lines on the basis that they were too expensive to run and were not carrying passengers. The provincial bus and rail services should be under one management body.

I invite the Minister to deal with the problems in my constituency in regard to the bus services. We have had to face many problems since the closure of the link with the Great Northern Railway. There is a need for an extension of the bus service by CIE in the south west of the county and CIE should provide a more efficient express service there. Will the Minister indicate if he plans to retain the public bus service that operates in north Donegal?

I am in a minority on this side of the House, perhaps in the entire House, in saying I have some admiration for the approach of the Minister in dealing with semi-State companies under his aegis. I do not think all members of his party, or my party, will agree with that statement but the Minister has tried to rationalise the semi-State companies under his control and I wish him continued success in that regard. I accept there are huge obstacles to be encountered with those big organisations. One could spend a full day discussing CIE but I will just touch on a few aspects of the company and the proposals in the Bill. For as long as I can remember successive Governments have produced reports about CIE and I have no doubt that the reports issued would cover the floor of the Chamber. I do not know how many McKinsey-type reports have been prepared or the number of inter-Departmental reports that have been issued. However, I am aware they are all gathering dust now. Within a few years it is likely that another report on CIE will be commissioned and that we will pay consultants hundreds of thousands of pounds to produce it.

I welcome the fact that the Bill intends to do something about CIE. With the prospect of a general election in the next year some Deputies will be considering the number of CIE votes they have to play for in their constituencies before offending such people in a debate like this. It is my view that the majority of people in the privacy of their own homes would not praise many aspects of CIE's operations. Undoubtedly, one can approve of some aspects of the company and one must accept that some people in the company work very hard. However, in general CIE have been an unmitigated bloody disaster who have cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds over the years. It has been a terrible drain on the State.

The Bill proposes, instead of having one company employing a large number of people, to give us three CIE companies, namely, Irish Rail, Irish Bus and Dublin Bus. I am afraid that instead of having one big problem with CIE we will end up with three more bureaucracies and three greater problems. Semi-State companies are established to fill a need but it is usual here for them to assume a type of organic growth of themselves. They become so large and unwieldly that one forgets the purpose for which they were established. We all agree that when CIE were constituted as a public utility company there was a need for a public transport company. The company was set up to fill a vacuum because nobody else was providing a public transport service. However, we must ask ourselves why the company are involved in various roles that private enterprise would do a lot better. That fundamental question faces the State not alone in regard to CIE but in regard to a whole range of activities here.

We have to decide whether we are to operate fully in a free enterprise economy or have a State or semi-State socialist type economy. I put my cards firmly down on the side of free enterprise because I believe the whole system would operate better if free enterprise was allowed to run unfettered. CIE are in business to provide a service but they have become so large that the mangement and many workers in the company think the Irish people should provide a service for them and should provide them with good wages and conditions. Those involved in the ordinary world of private enterprises who are not able to provide a service for their customers, whether it is a labouring service, an accountancy service such as I am involved in or any other form of activity go out of business very quickly. If politicians do not provide the service required of them they go out of business in that they are not returned at the next general election. The management and workers of many semi-State companies — one could over-run this argument to the Civil Service — assume that because they are regarded as part of the State sector the remainder of the population, should, through their taxes, provide good terms of employment for them. CIE must realise they are in the transport service and are there to provide that service for the rest of the community, not the other way around.

Why are CIE involved in some of the activities which form part of their operation? What are they doing in the freight service which has continuously lost money? The private operators in road freight and so on can make a profit and if they do not make one they go out of business. CIE had a type of monopoly, or tried to have, for a number of years and they could not make a profit. Why did they go into the freight service in the first place? For many years CIE were involved in hotels. What were they doing in that business?

The hotels are gone.

What were they doing in the hotel business? Why are semi-State companies becoming involved in areas where free enterprise can legitimately operate? They only create more management structures, more bureaucracy and further jobs at the expense, in the long term, of the ordinary taxpayer. A company such as CIE must be involved in marketing. If they are not able to provide a service at an economic cost, free enterprise must be allowed to do it. The present Minister has helped to liberalise road freight and haulage with the help of the EC directives. However, that has been a long, hard struggle. CIE were a protected species and yet could not make any money, They are a large conglomerate and have got themselves involved in areas of activity in which they should never have become involved.

Take the constituency in which I live. In the past 20 years that area has been the fastest growing county outside Dublin county and the north of the area is projected to grow at an even faster rate. In the two main population growth centres of County Kildare, namely, the Naas-Newbridge triangle and the north Kildare triangle of Leixlip, Celbridge and Maynooth, there has been enormous growth but yet CIE, for capital reasons, cannot become involved in that area. Any private operator would be in to take advantage of the market. Surely it is possible for CIE to provide a proper rail service for those areas? The tracks are there as far as Naas and Newbridge are concerned and there is a station in Newbridge. The branch line from Naas to Sallins was closed off in the fifties but about two miles outside Naas, at Sallins, there is a railway station. There are hundreds of people who every morning would be very willing to take the rail service to Dublin, to pick up the train at Sallins. That would take off the roads great numbers of people who travel in and out every day. These towns of Naas and Newbridge are really dormitory towns of Dublin and there is a market there. The same applies to Leixlip. It is very difficult to convince CIE that they should provide these services. There is one morning service which operates from Maynooth to Dublin but there would be an increase in passengers if the train stopped at Leixlip. It has taken a number of years to get the service to Maynooth and it will take many more years before CIE provide a service for and proper rail facilities at Sallins. They should provide the required services.

I am in favour of privatisation of the bus service, of allowing private operators to operate within the system. I appeal to the Minister, who has a very liberal view in this whole area, to consider the granting of licences to private bus operators on scheduled services. Regarding competition, we have seen what has happened to Aer Lingus since Ryanair got into the market. The customer is coming off best.

Every Friday night in Westmoreland Street, Dublin, for the past couple of years a number of private bus operators take people back to the main provincial towns. There is a great social aspect to this as well. People are brought to Limerick, Ennis. Clare and Galway in their hundreds at a very economic cost. This has revitalised those areas. All the fun is not in coming to Dublin at the weekend for the crack, it is in going back to Ennis, Tralee or Castlebar. All the civil servants and other young people working in Dublin take these buses home each week-end and return to Dublin on the Sunday night.

Other bus operators are operating on the scheduled service routes also and are providing a good service. There are a number of anomalies in the law at present and CIE are trying to hassle the private bus operators to such an extent that they are attempting to put them off the road, trying to catch them out in illegalities. CIE are trying to protect themselves. It has been great that these services have been operating for the past three years and I wish them continued success. Following on the proposals to change the bus services, I do not want the private operators not to be able to operate. What if the private operators will only take the economic areas? I say that the people running these bus services are prepared to tender with CIE or anybody else for what are known as the uneconomic runs. Let us then see who can provide a service at the best cost.

These bodies are to service the customer, not to fleece the customer. I look forward to further liberalisation. I am not convinced that the setting up of three independent companies now to be known as Irish Rail, Irish Bus and Dublin Bus to replace the existing CIE company will make any difference whatsoever. It might even create further layers of bureaucracy but I hope I am proved wrong.

Deputy De Rossa rose.

I call on Deputy Fitzgerald.

Thank you, Sir. I have been waiting in the House for some time. I welcome the opportunity to contribute on the transport Bill which the Minister has placed before the House. Before going on to that subject, I should like to crave the indulgence of the Chair in that for the second time I complain about the requirement that civil servants wear badges in this House. It strikes me as very strange that people who have given long and dedicated service to our administration should be required to carry tags labelling them when they come to serve the elected Ministers here. The Minister should see to it that this practice is discontinued. I fully support the need for security, for having an identification badge or card which is to be produced on request or on entry to the House, but it is ridiculous to ask civil servants, particularly those with long and eminent service, to wear badges in this House. I am merely expressing my abhorrence about something on which I feel very strongly. I suggest to the Minister that he take the necessary steps to have them replaced by cards.

Debate adjourned.