Written Answers. - Rail Services.

John Deasy

Question:

355 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Transport if he will ensure that a non-stop passenger service is provided at least twice a day from Waterford to Dublin and the return journey from Dublin to Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10951/03]

The scheduling and operation of individual trains is an operational matter for Irish Rail.

However, I recently met with the Waterford Chamber of Commerce and during the course of the meeting on rail issues, I was provided with suggestions for improvements in the schedule of services on the route.

I have passed these suggestions on to Iarnród Éireann for its consideration.

John Deasy

Question:

356 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Transport the plans, if any, Iarnród Éireann has to replace the locomotive trains with faster railcars; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10952/03]

The purchase and operation of individual types of rolling stock is an operational matter for Irish Rail.

Irish Rail recently placed orders for 67 new locomotive-hauled carriages for use on intercity services. I understand that these are primarily intended for use on the Cork to Dublin line. In addition, Irish Rail is currently examining the scope to acquire high specification inter-regional railcars for use on mainline rail services. I am informed that both types of trains will be capable of reaching the maximum line speeds of whatever lines they are deployed on.

John Deasy

Question:

357 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Transport the efforts being made to reduce the travel time from Rosslare to Limerick Junction and to provide a user-friendly service to the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10953/03]

The strategic rail review, which I published recently, identified that significant investment was required to maintain and upgrade services on the Rosslare to Limerick Junction line.

The review goes on to state that potential passenger volumes are such that it is questionable whether additional investments should take place, particularly where competing investments of higher societal returns are available.

The review was recently presented to the board of Iarnród Éireann and I expect the company to respond with a prioritised investment plan in the near future.

There is also a role for local authorities to consider future development plans in the context of supporting existing rail infrastructure. This is clearly an issue for consideration by local authorities along the Limerick Junction to Rosslare line, in the light of the conclusions reached by the consultants who undertook the strategic rail review.

Damien English

Question:

358 Mr. English asked the Minister for Transport his plans to speed up the delivery of the critical rail link to County Meath in view of the recent rail review report which puts County Meath at the bottom of the list; if he will appoint a consultant specifically to investigate a public private partnership for the Navan-Dublin link; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11015/03]

The Dublin Transportation Office strategy document, A Platform for Change, recommends that, based on projected population and employment levels, a rail line to Navan be constructed from the Maynooth line near Clonsilla via Dunboyne in the period after 2010.

The recently published strategic rail review provides a policy framework for the future development of passenger and freight rail sectors in Ireland, based on future land use development as proposed in the national spatial strategy. The report includes an assessment of many rail proposals, which took account of submissions received as part of a public consultation process.

While a rail link between Navan and Connolly is not currently among the planned proposals the review does recognise that circumstances can change. The review recognises that there is a need for a flexible approach, particularly regarding the selection and approval of investment proposals in terms of the objectives of balanced regional development and sustainable development, which is especially relevant in the case of the national spatial strategy and the greater Dublin area. The review also noted that the provision of effective public transport to Navan will be important in creating the investment corridor that will enable Navan to become self-sustaining, as envisaged in the strategic planning guidelines for the greater Dublin area.
Given that the Navan rail issue has just been examined in the strategic rail review, I do not propose to appoint a consultant now to examine these matters again. However, I do expect that public transport links to Navan will be considered as part of the review of the strategic planning guidelines for the greater Dublin area, which is about to start under the auspices of the two regional authorities for the greater Dublin area.