Written Answers. - Rail Network.

Gerry Reynolds

Question:

63 Mr. G. Reynolds asked the Minister for Public Enterprise if she will consider employing a business consultancy firm to provide a feasibility study for the future development of the Collooney to Claremorris disused rail line; and if she will further consider a number of alternative proposals which have been made in relation to the rail line. [17566/01]

Decisions in relation to the re-opening of individual railway lines are matters for the board and management of CIE and Iarnród Éireann. I understand from Iarnród Éireann that they have no plans to carry out a feasibility study into the re-opening of the Collooney to Claremorris line as the anticipated level of passenger carryings relative to the capital and operating costs would not justify such a service. The line was closed finally in 1975 because of low patronage and in the absence of major development along the rail corridor its re-opening is unlikely to be viable.

The rail investment programme currently being implemented by Iarnród Éireann is the largest investment ever put into railways in Ireland. However, these resources are limited and must be utilised so that the best value for money is achieved for the Irish public. Therefore, the investment programme is being implemented in a prioritised manner on the basis of rail safety, customer demand and expected economic return.

Given the high capital and operational costs associated with investment in new rail infrastructure and services, I am not in a position to consider new rail projects at present other than those which are outlined in the national development plan.

A number of alternative uses have been suggested for the Collooney to Claremorris rail formation in recent times including the installation of a gas pipeline and the development of the line for leisure activities. I understand that CIE and Iarnród Éireann are willing to discuss all these options with interested parties.

While I am informed that no formal proposals for a gas pipeline on the rail formation have been received by CIE, I understand that, for safety concerns, the laying of a gas pipe line would necessarily lead to its abandonment for rail purposes.