Transport (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 1971: Committee Stage.

Sections 1 to 3, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 4.
Question proposed: "That section 4 stand part of the Bill."

I raised some points on Second Stage and I said that I would ask the Minister for more information at this Stage in connection with the County Donegal Railways Joint Committee and the Strabane and Letter-kenny Railway Company. I wanted information, specifically, on the present extent of services which CIE will now be undertaking. Senator Gallanagh, as a Donegal man, also spoke on this. We wanted, at least, a verbal assurance from the Minister that this would not be the opportunity for reducing what are, in my small experience of County Donegal, very important services. The areas covered are quite large. The people in general are not members of the high income group and the onus of maintaining the present level of services is very important. I should like to ask the Minister what is the extent of the present services—bus services and road freight services—and if he intends to maintain them. He has already made statements about maintaining the personnel but I wish at this Stage to ask about these services.

I can assure Senator West that the services that have existed heretofore will be maintained by CIE. These services have been maintained by CIE since 1966 when the agreement was made. This legislation is primarily designed to legitimise an agreement that was made some years ago, and which is attached to the Schedule. This agreement was made on 31st May, 1967, between the British Railway Board and CIE although CIE had, in fact, taken over management of the undertaking since 1966. The scheduled passenger services which had been operating daily under the County Donegal Railways Joint Committee between Strabane and Letter-kenny, Strabane and Ballybofey, Killybegs and Donegal, Donegal and Ballybofey and Strabane and Killybegs are being run at the moment by CIE. This has been the position since 1966. There are additional services which have always been operated by CIE. Apart from the obligations they have taken over from the County Donegal Railway Joint Committee CIE also operated road passenger services on the Killybegs-Ballybofey route via Donegal.

Special school services are also operated. Passenger services are operated by the Joint Committee between all the centres of population in the southern part of County Donegal, as are road freight services. The Bill will give a legal stamp to the future operation of these services by CIE. The territory under the old County Donegal Railways Joint Committee can be roughly defined as north of Ballyshannon and south of the line from Derry city to Dungloe on the west coast.

Apart from its scheduled mail and freight services, special trunk or nonstop road freight services are operated daily by the Joint Committee from the principal towns in this territory to and from Derry and Sligo. There is also a direct service between Sligo and Derry. The committee also operate general haulage services to all points of its area. The mileage operated in 1970 by the old CDR road transport fleet, which at 31st December, 1970, comprised 40 lorries, vans and tractors as well as trailers and containers, exceeded 1 million miles. The transition has taken place and the full road passenger and road freight services which were formerly operated by the Committee are now being operated by CIE. There is no difficulty anticipated in maintaining that service.

May I ask the Minister how many buses, apart from school buses, are operating the services which were formerly run by the County Donegal Railway Joint Committee?

Eight road passenger vehicles operated by the Joint Committee are all hired from CIE, so in fact CIE are doing now what I said.

I am pleased to hear the Minister giving an assurance that there will be no restriction in the services here. The first indications of the CIE takeover would show that they plan to restrict the services here. I am delighted to have the Minister's assurance that there will be no restrictions in the service. I will instance a case where we had a service between Letterkenny, Lifford and Strabane via Raphoe but already there is a restriction and a cut down of road transport service here. I have had occasion to write complaining about this but I have got very little satisfaction. The answer I received was that it was done for economy reasons. Therefore I am glad to have the Minister's assurance.

The proposed takeover by CIE has been a great cause for concern in Donegal. CIE may express the best of intentions. However, the remote areas of the county were looked after very well by the County Donegal Railway Joint Committee, both in road transport and freight transport. We fear that CIE will not give such an efficient service for the county. There is no special welcome for CIE in Donegal. We had a very effective transport company operating there. It was a company that was closely in touch with the community using that transport system. CIE's operations in Donegal are administered from Galway and any difficulties or complaints must be communicated to Galway.

I am glad to have the Minister's assurance that there will be no cut down. The Minister said that this is a logical development, that it was very satisfactory to be able to record that CIE are taking over a very efficient and profitable unit and that he hopes this position will continue. That is a summary of our hopes and wishes in County Donegal also. Apart from that, our main concern will be for the staff because we have fears that there could be redundancy.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I would suggest to the Senator that any question of the transfer of staff might be better discussed under section 10. It is difficult to determine on which section points should be raised. The general discussion so far has been allowed on section 4, but staff would definitely come under section 10.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 5 to 8, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 9.
Question proposed: "That section 9 stand part of the Bill."

I should like to make a point which I made several times before here on Bills which deal with CIE. I realise there may be difficulties with section 9. I should like to ask the Minister, first, what are the obligations on the Joint Committee by statute? While asking this question, I feel we have always to look at our State transport system from more than one point of view. The onus is on the company and, therefore, indirectly on the Government. It is up to Members of the Oireachtas to ensure that this onus is being fulfilled and that the company are fulfilling their obligations in providing a service to the public. We must be especially careful that the less economic sections of the company's operation are not sacrificed when they provide an important service. Although, as has been pointed out, the County Donegal company are making a profit at the moment, it may soon happen—I hope it will not—that the profit will diminish and that we may be faced with a position in which the service is uneconomic—but the number of people using it will still be large enough to justify the company providing this service.

I would never look askance at the Minister if he came, in certain circumstances, and asked for money specifically for certain aspects of the operation or explained to us that the company were running certain services at a loss because they were of social benefit to the community. I imagine it could easily happen in County Donegal that this would be the case in a certain number of years. However, it is absolutely essential that we provide these services and that they be subsidised by the more profitable parts of the company's operation in Dublin city, for example, or in other parts of the company's working where a good profit can be made. If necessary, if the money cannot come from there, it must come from central funds. It is something we have to bear in mind when we are thinking of our transport company: that there are parts of the company which must be serviced but which will not show a profit. They may show a loss but the service must be kept to provide facilities for people who may not have very much money and who may be unable to pay for private transport. I should like to ask the Minister, therefore, what are the obligations imposed by statute on the Joint Committee.

This is the obligation that was imposed on all railway companies under section 9 of the Railways Act, 1933. Under section 9 of the 1933 Act before any railway service could be terminated the railway company were obliged by statute, by that section, to satisfy the Minister that adequate substitute road services would be provided for all the rail services being discontinued and to give public notice of their intention to do so.

I can give the Seanad an assurance that, even though it is proposed to remove the statutory obligation in respect of substitute services for the discontinued rail services, adequate substitute road services will continue to be provided. In fact, the road services that have been operated there, both on the passenger and freight side since 1966, have been operated by CIE; these will be continued by CIE and there will be no diminution in them and there has been no diminution in them since 1966.

The 1958 Transport Act relieved CIE of the obligation to provide substitute road transport services on the termination of railway services. The net effect is that we are relieving CIE from any such obligation imposed on the Joint Committee under the Transport Act, 1933. I agree that the point is largely academic now in that the rail services have, in fact, been discontinued and what has been operating since 1966 is a road passenger service and a road freight service. These have been operated by CIE on behalf of the Joint Committee and will be operated solely now by CIE in the future and have been so operated since 1966.

Again, I should like to ask for clarification. If you had not this section in the Bill is it the position that when CIE officially take over the Joint Committee's operations they would legally be obliged to maintain adequate road passenger services in lieu of rail services which were operating when the railway company closed down? Does this only apply to rail services which might be there at the moment and which are, in fact, not in operation? Is the idea of this section to remove the obligation which exists as to rail services which last ran, say, ten years ago?

That is right.

In regard to the Minister's assurance that adequate road services would be provided, will he give a further assurance that they will not be provided by old worn-out coaches that CIE are not anxious to run in places like the city, that they are not just dumped off to rural areas? I understand that a remote area is not the best place to run a new coach; nevertheless, it is a second-class service if you run an old worn-out coach on some of these routes. I would therefore, ask the Minister for an assurance that this will not be the dump for the company's worn-out vehicles.

I would not allow that to happen to County Donegal. Certainly, I will look into that.

Having established what exactly this section of the Bill refers to, I should like to ask the Minister why he finds this particular statute too restrictive? Is there no flexibility in the actual wording of the statute? Must you replace every rail service by a corresponding bus service or is there no flexibility?

There is flexibility.

If there was flexibility I would not see any need for trying to get away from this statute.

It is a very rigid section which was put into the 1933 Act in ease of the railways. It is 13 years out of the Statute Book now. So far as CIE are concerned it has been out since 1958.

While Senator West may thank the Minister for clarifying the situation, I must confess I still do not quite understand. It is either unnecessary or else it means something different from what I thought it meant. If it only refers to the changeover from rail to road, there are no railways running, so from that point of view it is not necessary.

Why have them in? Why have the Statute Book clogged up with sections that no longer mean anything? It is just a question of removing it when it is no longer necessary.

If that is all this is doing, then it is doing it in an unusual way. I have always seen statutes removed by specific reference that such and such an Act now ceases to have any effect, and it is usually mentioned in a schedule.

They could conceivably have a railway again in the future.

If that happens I could envisage the Minister or his successor coming in with a new Act. I do not think it will happen under existing legislation. Perhaps I am being unduly suspicious—the Minister in another Bill referred to my warfare, which is very one-sided, with the parliamentary draftsman—but the parliamentary draftsman and the Department are unlikely to put in things unless they really have some meaning. As there are no railways in these areas reference to the changeover to roads does not appear to be necessary from that point of view. I am suspicious that it may mean something else. There is a statutory obligation to maintain the road services which replaced the rail services, so it does effect the existing road services. Once this Bill is passed all obligation on CIE to maintain the services they were forced to put on will cease to have any effect.

This is largely academic. If you maintain the statutory obligation there is the outside interpretation that somebody might demand that, because a road service was not brought in for a particular piece of rail that has been non-existent for 11 years, it could be legally argued, on behalf of this person or group of people who were on a rail service before 1960, when the rail service was discontinued, that the statutory obligation in the 1933 Act, if not removed by section 9 here, would still apply. This would obviously be anomalous when CIE had this statutory obligation, which, I am informed, is the only statutory obligation that section 9 refers to, removed in 1958, 13 years ago. We are still in a situation where CIE, since 1958, are relieved of this statutory obligation in the country as a whole and yet, if you do not put in section 9, they will again have a statutory obligation. However academic or however real that may be, they will have a statutory obligation in respect of the County Donegal Railway Committee area that they do not have in regard to the country as a whole. It seems to me to be a very logical tidying-up operation to put CIE on the same basis vis-á-vis their statutory obligations throughout the country.

Do I understand the Minister to say that, where rail services are discontinued and road services are substituted, they were done illegally and were done without permission or that the statutory obligation was in some way got round illegally some time ago?

I am only arguing a possible hypothetical case. I am not saying anybody intends to do this to CIE. It is open to argument that a legal action would lie under section 9 of the 1933 Act unless removed here. It would certainly be anomalous to put CIE in peril of litigation in respect of this part of County Donegal when they had, by Act of Parliament, in 1958, removed themselves from any such peril of litigation throughout the rest of the country.

We have got firm assurance from the Minister—obviously, he cannot write this into the Bill, however nice it would be—that the services will be maintained at their present level at least when required. That pleases me a good deal and I am sure it pleases Senator McGowan and Senator Sheldon, seeing that they come from Donegal. It is very important that we have got this verbal assurance. I know that the Senators I referred to would confront the Minister if everything suddenly stopped in Donegal.

County Donegal representatives are very active.

You can say that again.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 10.
Question proposed: "That section 10 stand part of the Bill."

Our concern here is for the salaried staff and workers of the County Donegal Railways. We fear that the conditions will not be as good, despite the assurances given in the Bill, for the salaried staff and workers. Here again we have evidence that conditions will not be as good. Opportunities for promotion will not be as good. As I have already said, this was a small, efficient and very compact company and their workers had all the benefits of the efficiency of that company. The Minister has said that, as far as possible, the workers will not be changed from their place of employment in Donegal but that provision would have to be made in the Bill whereby the company, if they found it necessary, could change salaried staff and workers to other parts of the country.

This is the part of the Bill we fear. I would like a strong assurance from the Minister that the staff and workers will not be less well off. He has already stated this, but I would require a very strong assurance in that regard. In particular, as far as possible, I should like the assurance of the Minister that he will take special care, in any negotiations regarding redundancy, that a fair and square deal will be obtained for the workers of this company. I noticed, in particular, one of the benefits, which is not obtainable in CIE, that the salaried staff and workers of the County Donegal Railways had —free travel for themselves and their families. If this benefit is lost by these workers the Minister should see that CIE compensates them for this loss.

I would not like to see either the lorry drivers or bus drivers saddled with the cast-off vehicles from CIE. I do not want the situation to arise in which we have Dublin-registered vehicles, which are 20 years old, providing the transport in Donegal. That would be a deterioration in the service and certainly would be a deterioration in the conditions which the workers in County Donegal now enjoy.

I should like to ask the Minister for some information on this problem of pensions for the members of the staff. Were there any officers or servants who were not members of the Railways Services Superannuation Fund at the date of transfer? If so what would be their position? What pension scheme is there for people who may not be covered by subsection (2) (a)?

This is the salaried staff we are referring to here. They were all members.

So there would be no question of any problem about their pension scheme?

Does this pension scheme compare favourably with the present pension scheme operated by CIE or is it a different scheme?

I am told there is no difference. I can get more information about that. The Seanad have the assurance that if there is any difference there will be no diminution. Nobody will suffer by reason of the transfer from one superannuation fund to the CIE fund.

In answer to Senator McGowan, I assure him that, so far as the staffing situation is concerned, no member of the Joint Committee staff will be disemployed as a result of the transfer of the CDR undertaking to CIE. This is absolutely factual and has been the situation over the past five years of operation. There may be staff rearrangement matters to be dealt with, but these will only be dealt with after full consultation with the trade union, as applies in regard to any such dealing by CIE with their staff in any part of the country. There will certainly be no disemployment and that guarantee has already been given to everyone concerned.

On subsection (3) (b), what money could possibly come under this heading? I thought the Joint Committee had now ceased operating and that CIE had taken over. Are these back payments which may have to be made for some reason?

These are moneys which will be required by the Joint Committee in discharging obligations, that is, obligations arising out of the superannuaton fund. It is a transitory matter and will cease to have any effect as CIE take over the entire fund. However, in the interim period, there will be money required by the Joint Committee to discharge obligations. The CIE board are committed to meeting such obligations in this interim period. As the new CIE superannuation fund takes over entirely the Railway Clearance System Superannuation Fund, the need for subsection (3) (b) will disappear. It is really a transitory provision to enable obligations incurred by the Joint Committee to the former employees in respect of the fund to which the employees belonged to be discharged on demand by the board of CIE.

Question put and agreed to.
Business suspended at 6.5 p.m and resumed at 7.30 p.m.
SECTION 11.
Question proposed: "That section 11 stand part of the Bill."

Just a brief word on this section. I am sorry Senator West is not here at the moment because I know he has an interest in railway history. Since this Bill means the dissolution of an old railway company, I was wondering if anyone has given any thought to the value of the books as historical documents. I understand that there is a growing interest in the archives of companies of all kinds. For example, there was a great interest in the books of the Castlecomer Colliery when that closed down. Has anybody given thought to the historical value of the records of these railway companies? If not, could the Minister have the matter looked into before they find their way to the rubbish heap? Material of this kind is a very valuable contribution to the study of social history in the years ahead and I am sure that books of companies like this, which have served an open area and carried goodness knows what cargoes from point to point, will be of very great interest to those who follow it in the years ahead.

I should like to reinforce what Senator Keery has said. The point he makes about the records is very important. I, myself, have been involved with—not specifically the records of a railway company—the records of another company in trying to get them preserved for the social historians to work on. The general feeling is that far too few company records in Ireland have been preserved. As a result, there is a great gap in our knowledge, and a famous old railway company like this would be of interest, not just to social historians, but more specifically to railway historians. I certainly consider Senator Keery's point to be a valid one and I should like the Minister to do whatever he can in his power to ensure that the records of the County Donegal Railway Company would be preserved and put in their proper place in the National Library or any other suitable Irish library. It might be more appropriate, in this case, to put them in a County Donegal library. The whole thing is to preserve them so that the historians and people who have this as a particular interest can study them at a later date, and that they will not be lost.

I will bring what the Senator said to the notice of CIE. I can assure the Seanad that CIE have a most comprehensive library available at Seán Heuston station and this library does provide what the Senator has spoken about; a comprehensive history of the railways, the various developments and so on over the years since the railways were established. Any records now in the possession of the County Donegal Railways will pass into the CIE library for the edification of future historians.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 12.
Question proposed: "That section 12 stand part of the Bill."

I should like to ask what will happen to the people concerned. Subsection (2) states:

The Board shall not be subject to any liability in respect of any stocks or shares of the Strabane Company or in respect of the payment of interest or dividends on such stocks or shares and no cause of action shall lie against the Board in respect of any such stocks or shares or in respect of the payment of any such interest or dividends.

Subsection (4) of section 13 states:

save as provided in this section, compensation shall not be payable to any person by reason of the dissolution of the Strabane Company affected by section 12 (1).

This deals with the Strabane Company. What is to happen to the holders of shares in the County Donegal Railways Company? Are these people to obtain nothing in lieu of the shares they held? The question of the Strabane Company comes up in section 13, but is there a difference in compensation for shareholders of the two companies?

There is. The agreement in the Schedule settles the affairs of the shareholders in the County Donegal Railways Committee. That is the agreement between the British Railways Board and Córas Iompair Éireann.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 13.
Question proposed: "That section 13 stand part of the Bill."

On the question of compensation to the holders of the guaranteed stock, I wonder would the Minister elaborate a little on this. The Minister told the Dáil that the Donegal County Council and Letterkenny Urban District Council guaranteed dividends on these particular shares to the owners and they were liable respectively for an annual sum of £640 and £60. They decided to terminate these payments on the 1st January, 1960, having being advised that once the railways ceased to operate they were no longer liable for payment.

Apparently the Strabane Railway also took advice. They were advised that they were entitled to get the payment in continuation notwithstanding the fact that the railways had ceased to exist. I wonder which advice was correct and did the Minister or CIE get any advice on the matter. In other words, two local authorities decided they were not liable, presumably legally, to pay these but the Minister has accepted liability and is paying the stock-holders concerned a sum of £17,000. I wonder is he strictly liable for this?

The Attorney General advised us in this matter. As the Senator says, there was this disagreement as to liability and the local authorities discontinued their payments on the termination of the railways service in January, 1960. At the same time, CIE could be open to litigation unless this liability was discharged.

I do not suggest that we should be unfair to the shareholders but if there was not a legal liability I certainly would be against using taxpayers' money.

The advice we got was that there was a legal liability.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 14 to 21, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 22.
Question proposed: "That section 22 stand part of the Bill."

Subsection (1) gives power to the Minister to make an order so that certain specified level crossings do not have to be manned. The wording is:

to provide, make or maintain gates or other specified works at a specified level crossing.

I think this means certain level crossings on roads that at one time had been heavily used by the public and these roads have changed in character. They have now degenerated perhaps into crossings purely used by local farmers and used very infrequently. I should like to get some more detailed information from the Minister on the point as to which type of level crossing he intends to include under subsection (1) because in fact he could, under subsection (1), if the Minister for Local Government agreed, exempt every level crossing from these provisions. I should like to ask him which level crossings he will exempt.

While we are dealing with the problem of level crossings, I should like him to say what the feeling in the company is about these unstaffed level crossings—unstaffed and without barriers. These crossings, I think, are called graded crossings in the United States. This is another area in which a transport company, CIE in this case, have got to lay out a great deal of money on maintenance of gates and on maintenance of staff at level crossings. I think we have got to be realistic here. We have got to replace staffed level crossings by unstaffed level crossings with barriers and, as I said on the Second Stage, the company are to be congratulated on their warning advertisements on television. They are extremely good. I feel the public has got to face the fact that the level crossing gate will be replaced by automatic barriers, lights and bells. The public may have to face the further unpleasant fact that there will be level crossings on roads which are not heavily used and which may be marked, without a barrier, by a post with the criss-cross sign of a railway crossing and that it will be up to the public themselves to ensure that there is no train approaching and that it is at their own risk they cross without ensuring that there is no train coming in either direction. The cost of maintaining level crossings is extremely high and for less used roads such as boreens the level crossing will have to be replaced by just a grade crossing. I should like to ask the Minister what is the opinion of the company on the problem of level crossings.

Unfortunately, the problem is not too great because we do not have a railway at all in my area, and we do not have level crossings. What we do have is a legacy of the remains of level crossings, the dangers of which have been unheard of by the local authority in County Donegal. There are gates and dangerous corners which in themselves present a very serious problem in the county. I am sure that those Senators who have had the pleasure of coming to our county can remember that we had a lot of winding roads and the railway had to find its way through these roads. In a number of places there are dangerous corners which are a problem to the local authority. Under this section the greatest problem that we have in the county is how to find funds and sufficient time. I do not think sufficient provision is made in this section or that sufficient recognition is taken of that problem.

I wonder how far the assurance in this Bill goes in respect of maintaining crossings which are no longer railway crossings but are actually ragged ways for landowners in so far as they may cross the railway and have gates which were there as crossing gates. I wonder how the company's responsibility will continue to maintain gates at these which could be classed as private crossings between one farm and another.

As I understand it, this section applies only to crossings where CIE have now a statutory obligation to provide attendance. It does not refer to level crossings which are on main and secondary roads. If I am correct in that I should like to follow up on what Dr. West has said and ask the Minister what is CIE's policy in regard to railway crossings in general. It is obvious that in the years to come we will have to fall in line with the modern practice in other countries where attendance at level crossings is unknown.

I should like to suggest to the Minister that this would be only a beginning of a policy gradually to do away with attendance at railway crossings. The best policy to adopt would be to take this as a starting point and then have secondary or by-roads, eventually followed up by having automatic crossings on the main roads. As I understand it, this is only a very limited provision which affects only some 70 level crossings where CIE do not have to provide anybody to open or close the gates. Generally speaking, now is the time for CIE to consider a general policy in regard to level crossings so that we will know what is in store for us in the years ahead. The public who are driving cars will have advance notice of any change in policy by CIE in regard to railway crossings.

Along with Senators West, McGowan and Russell, Senator Dooge also raised this point on the Second Stage. First of all, to remove any misconception, the power that Senator Russell speaks about in regard to the important roads exists under section 9 of the Transport Act, 1958. Under that section the Minister has power to allow for the substitution of automatic controls for gates at level crossings where the railway company have a statutory obligation to provide attendance. These are crossings which crossed public roads when the railways were first laid down. This obligation was placed on the railway companies in statutes back in 1845 and 1863. We have already dealt with those roads under section 9 of the Transport Act, 1958, so the policy is quite clearly in the direction of having a substitution of automatic warning devices and other controls for the old-fashioned attended railway crossing. Many of these are already in existence on public roads in many parts of the country.

The purpose of this section is to go further than section 9 of the Transport Act, 1958, so as to enable CIE to substitute these automatic warning devices and controls for gates on public road level crossings at which the board are at present obliged to provide and maintain gates but are not obliged to provide attendance, that is, crossings which were not public road crossings when the railways were constructed and therefore did not need attendance under the railway transport legislation of the last century. This provision in section 22 is an extension of a principle that exists in section 9 of the Transport Act, 1958, which already covers level crossings at which there is an obligation to provide attendance. Section 22 of the Bill empowers me to make orders in respect of the type of crossing which was not covered by the 1958 Act and which we are now seeking to cover in view of the experience of the operation of the 1958 Act which is, in the main, favourable.

Senator Dooge asked me, on Second Stage, to make some observations as to the general experience of how these new automatic devices had worked since being introduced after the 1958 Act. During the last ten years, accidents at level crossings in the State dropped from 38 in 1961 to six in 1970. This bears out the change in policy towards the automatic devices in that the accident rate at level crossings has dropped steeply, even though automatic devices have gradually replaced the old unattended railway crossing, and in a few years these should be fully replaced wherever it is practicable.

Many of these automatic crossings are located on busy main roads and they have greatly helped the flow of traffic. The experience in other countries, particularly in densely populated countries with a very high traffic flow like Belgium and the Netherlands, has been generally good and follows an overall pattern of an actual reduction in accidents rather than an increase. In the United States of America the accident experience has been similar.

I agree fully with Senator Dooge's comment about the necessity for an educational campaign in regard to the dangers of automatically controlled crossings. CIE are very aware of this. Whenever an automatic crossing is brought into operation every householder within a five miles radius is circulated with a brochure explaining how the crossing operates. In addition, the district manager gives talks in the schools in the area to explain the operation to schoolchildren. Section 22 therefore is designed to ensure that we diminish the risk of accidents at unattended level crossings on minor roads which have become public roads. Many of the accidents in recent years have been at these unattended level crossings.

The onus of closing the gates at such crossings rests on the user and frequently results in the gates being left open to the road causing a serious hazard for both road and rail users. The section is designed to improve safety at this type of crossing and to enable me to make orders to permit automatic controls to be installed at the more dangerous of these crossings.

The company, through the Minister, are to be congratulated on their reduction in the accident rate from 38 to six in view of the fact that there are fewer manned crossings. I thought for a moment, when the Minister gave us this information, that perhaps 32 of the accidents had been caused by gate keepers pulling the gates over them or some incredible situation which might occur at manned crossings. I understand that the majority of these accidents occurred at crossings at which there were gates but which were not actually manned— that people left them open.

Exactly, and these are the cases we are seeking to cover now by this section.

In the United States of America one gory fact quoted every year is that, at certain of these crossings, the number of accidents is statistically constant every year: a more or less fixed number of people are killed. I am afraid that, unless our campaign is exceptionally successful, we will find that we will have a constant rate of accidents at these unmanned crossings. It is therefore very encouraging to learn that the rate has fallen from 38 to six. I did not see how it could be as high as 38 in this country, but we must all welcome the fact that it has fallen to six. Further, I should like to ask the Minister if the company intends to introduce what I term these "grade crossings"—that is the American phrase for them. These are crossings which do not have an automatic barrier, do not have a gate, which just have a warning post saying "level crossing". These are very common in the USA on the less heavily used lines. Is it the company's intention to introduce these in certain places here?

I should also like to ask the Minister, under subsection (4), about the persons who would propose to apply for such an order. Is there a possibility that anybody besides the company itself would be applying to the Minister to make an order in this case?

In reply to the last question, the local authority would. They would have an equal interest with the company in ensuring road safety. There is no intention, as far as I know so far, of introducing what the Senator calls "grade" crossings which they have in America.

Subsection (2) provides:

An order under this section may require the Board to provide and maintain such barriers, lights and automatic and other devices and appliances and to comply with such other conditions and requirements for the protection, safety and convenience of the public as the Minister thinks fit and specifies in the order.

What CIE found most effective are automatic barriers and light devices. A combination of these two is the most effective warning device. These are kept under constant review to ensure that the warning is as early as possible and as effective as possible.

Is there any mechanism by which the signal box in the section connected with the particular crossing is aware of the fact that the crossing lights or mechanism is out of order, such as there is for a signal itself?

There is an automatically controlled reaction and a telephone connected with the signal box of the area involved.

As soon as a signalman knows that a barrier on a specific road is out of action what are his instructions?

Either stop the train or notify his headquarters. If anything is wrong it is recorded automatically.

Can anybody, apart from the local authority, make an order? The subsection refers to "the person proposing"?

The secretary of CIE or the secretary of the local authority.

Can an individual apply?

Either CIE or a local authority can apply. If a local resident is interested in having proper safety devices installed at a certain point, in such a situation he can certainly apply through his local authority under the subsection. In practice it would be the local authority or CIE.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 23.
Question proposed: "That section 23 stand part of the Bill."

I welcome subsection (1) of this section under which the local authority is responsible for 50 per cent of the costs incurred by the board in providing automatic crossings or whatever the particular device is at level crossings. I should like to ask the Minister is there a general rule for level crossings which are not specifically mentioned under subsection (22), because I think it is a very fair regulation that the local authority should provide 50 per cent of the cost incurred not just in installation but in maintenance of level crossings. What is the position? Does the local authority pay for road services and the company pay for any actual work that has to be done on the permanent way, or how are costs divided up in the maintenance and improvement of level crossings?

At the present time the company bears the lot. We have got Local Government to agree that this is inequitable so far as this type of level crossing is concerned and that what we are proposing here is a fairer division of the costs.

I would certainly think that this is a step in the right direction because it is one other case in which CIE have got to bear a disproportionate percentage of costs involved in track maintenance.

It will be on a 50-50 basis.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 24 agreed to.
SECTION 25.
Question proposed: "That section 25 stand part of the Bill."

Reading this section, I wonder how realistic is this procedure of supervising the condition of the gates, whether they are open or closed, or what a driver of a vehicle does, or fails to do, when he goes through. I take it that we are thinking here of roads that are not very important, where the gates may be manually operated and where, normally, you would not have a guard on duty. Where is the evidence to come from that an individual has gone through and failed to close the gate? How often is a prosecution likely to arise under this section?

I take it that when a regulation is made to give affect to this section, and section 22, the direction in which the gates open, and that sort of thing, will be spelled out so that when the gate is opened for somebody going along the road it will not be put across the railway line and left there for the next train to smash into it. It will be opened, presumably, across the road so that, in effect, if the person who is making use of the road does something wrong, or does not do what he is supposed to do and close the gate again, it will not be the next train which will suffer under this piece of legislation.

Under the earlier section we dealt with two types of level crossings involving gates: the attended level crossing and the unattended level crossings on public roads. Both the Bill and the 1958 Act allow for orders to be made to replace both the attended and unattended gateways at level crossings on public roads by automatic devices.

This section relates to unattended crossings including a third category of crossing called accommodation crossings. The gates at these crossings are gates across the road, so there is no danger there with regard to the railway. They include accommodation crossings involving local farmers who may have land on both sides of the railway. They would have a gateway into the railway and another gateway out.

The danger here lies in leaving the gate open and allowing stock to stray on to the railway line. In this regard the fine has been at a level of 40s since 1845. CIE have found that, because of the legislation and the small nature of the penalty, offences have tended to be dismissed. We want to bring it home to district justices, and the public generally, that this can be a serious offence. For that reason we are providing here for a maximum penalty of £25 instead of 40s for failure by a user to shut and fasten gates at unattended level crossings.

Senator Jessop spoke about the difficulty of proving cases like that. Of course he is right. Prosecutions have been brought on the basis of information supplied by CIE employees working on the railway in the immediate area. CIE workers such as plate-layers and so on who have to tend, mind and repair a stretch of railway line, have notified these offences from time to time and there have been prosecutions on foot of them. We want this to act as a salutary example to people that this is a serious matter and can have dangerous repercussions. Stock straying on to the railway line, through an open gate, could obviously dislodge a train and this could have very serious consequences. The purpose here is to bring the penalty fixed at 40s in 1845 into realistic terms in 1971.

I think Senator Jessop referred to the difficulty in ascertaining the guilty person. Those accomodation crossings are, in general, adjacent to a farmer's house. The farmer is supplied with a key to the gate. There is an obligation on the farmer to lock the gate and to take possession of the key. If the gate is left open he is responsible. That is how the guilty person is ascertained.

Suppose some other person has a similar key. They are all standard keys. Some of these gates can be opened by pieces of wire. This means that if the Minister got a piece of wire and opened the gate the farmer would be liable.

That only applies to an accommodation crossing in a field, which is what Senator O'Brien is talking about. There are roads which are public roads across which there are accommodation crossings and in that case whoever leaves the gate open is liable. In the other case which Senator O'Brien mentioned which is in a field——

Surely both types of crossings are covered by the Bill?

That covers "level crossing" or "passage".

If the Minister opened the gates with a piece of wire, farmers all along the line would be liable to a £25 prosecution.

Yes, possibly.

Another question arises here. If a person fails to shut a gate, that person is guilty; but supposing the gate is not shut and another person uses the crossing, is that person guilty?

Yes. The section says "failing to shut and fasten". Once the person uses the level crossing there is an obligation placed on him or her by section 25 (2) to "shut and fasten" the gate.

He cannot say he found it open?

There is a penalty notice displayed at the gate.

May I just ask one further question? What is the specific reference to the "Fishguard Company"?

They are a company which own the railway line from Rosslare to Waterford in the southeast. Rail services on this line are operated by CIE.

I am all in favour of their being preserved. I should like to ask the Minister what mileage of track is owned by the Fishguard Company at the moment?

They own the lines from Rosslare to Waterford and to Wexford. The company is still an entity but the control of the company is shared between CIE and British Railways.

And it is called the Fishguard Company.

It is called the Fishguard Company and it is still a legal entity.

The intention is that CIE will tidy-up the operation and take over this company wholly?

Again, on the same basis, they run the ferry service from Rosslare to Fishguard.

So the service is not, in fact, run by British Railways as such? It is run by the Fishguard Company?

The Fishguard Company is jointly controlled by British Railways and CIE. That is the situation at the moment.

When I want to make a complaint about those particular boats I know that nobody is responsible. This applies especially to the quay in Rosslare Harbour; all that would be in the Fishguard Company?

I was wondering whether the Fishguard Company, which owns such a small extent of track, might have any bridges coming under section 26?

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 26.
Question proposed: "That section 26 stand part of the Bill."

As a member of a local authority in Donegal I am particularly interested in this section. Subsection (1) deals with the case of "where a public road crosses by means of a bridge" and here it is suggested that the company's responsibility to maintain the road surface on that bridge shall cease. The road authority, which is the local authority, appear to be liable for the road surface.

Subsection 2 (c) provides that the board shall pay to the road authority, which is the local authority, compensation for any expenses which it incurs in surfacing or maintaining the road thereafter. This is of particular importance to the local authority in County Donegal in so far as it has a very big number of these bridges. The local authorities in County Donegal are being pressed very hard at present to have some policy regarding these bridges. I would ask the Minister what he means by paying compensation to the local authority. Does he envisage paying for the realignment of bridges where the railway is no longer in use? In this section it says the bridge includes the approaches to the bridge. This is of great importance to the county. It is a part of the Bill which will affect the local authorities very much and I hope the Minister, his Department, CIE and everyone concerned fully realise what is involved here for the local authorities and for the company.

Maybe I am not fully qualified to read this, but I feel that here the company will be committed to the local authority for the maintenance of the road at these bridges. A problem could arise where realignment takes place and I do not see provision for such an occurrence.

Senator McGowan has made a very good point here. It applies not just to Donegal but all over the country. Again, I would make a plea. I look at this rather differently from Senator McGowan. I can see that a lot of the bridges over no longer existing permanent ways will have to be realigned to improve the roads. This section means that the financial liability for this is borne by the railway company.

Financial liability for road surfaces over bridges, whether they are crossing railways or canals, should come out of the appropriate finance provided by road users. This affects the accounting in CIE and specifically in the railway section of CIE. The railways are subsidising the road users and I think this is wrong. It is purely a matter of accountancy. The money will come out of State funds, whatever way it is done. I should like to see road surfaces and road alterations and the maintenance of road surfaces over railway bridges being financed by the appropriate road funds, not necessarily local authority funds, or general funds. Why should these constantly have to be a charge on CIE's railway operations? It is one of the many ways in which the railways are made to look financially much worse off than they actually are.

When we look at CIE's railway bill, which is presented by the Minister to the public occasionally, we should realise that railway finance covers the total cost of the railway operation, whereas road finance often just covers part of the cost. For example, the actual cost of transporting goods by lorry will be subsidised to a great extent by the actual funds used to maintain road surfaces. The road tax on the lorry is only a small part of it. The railway expenses, when one takes into account the State subsidy given to CIE to maintain the railways, cover the total cost of rail transport. I should like to see the full liability for road surfaces being paid by some other method and not being made as a charge to CIE and, in particular, to the railway side of the operation.

The fencing on ramps or overhead bridges is part of the responsibility and should remain the responsibility of the railway company. It is not mentioned here. "Bridge" includes an approach to a bridge, but not the fencing on the ramp. Even on a railway line which is continually in operation, if there is a breakdown on the fencing on the approach, the land on the inside is always the property of the railway company. Stock can wander off the public road on to the railway and this is not covered in the section.

When bridges are demolished and roads are realigned, this can always be met as a charge against the road fund, a road improvement grant. Maintenance charges only should fall on the railway company. Improvements could always be made a charge against the road fund.

That omission about fencing is important. A bridge includes an approach to a bridge and the fencing on the approach.

Are these bridges disused railway bridges crossing a road?

No. Senator Russell is on the point. They are not. They were covered under section 21 of the 1950 Act. These deal with public roads, where they cross by means of a bridge a functioning railway line. As we did in an earlier section, this is extending the powers that exist already in regard to certain bridges under the 1950 Act. Under section 21 of the 1950 Act, the liability in regard to bridges on abandoned railway lines was transferred to local authorities and has been a charge on local authorities since 1950. This section is designed to deal with the anomaly that has existed, as Senator West points out, since 1845 whereby CIE have a liability in regard to bridges over functioning railways. They have a liability in regard to the surfacing of the bridges and it is now agreed, again with the Department of Local Government, that this is anomalous. This is a matter for the road authority, with engineers and engineering staff dealing with repairs; it is obviously anomalous that they should be dealing with full road repairs, construction and reconstruction up to the approach to the bridge, and that CIE should have the liability for doing it after that.

It is obviously a situation that does not make sense. For that reason under this section we are transferring to the local authority the liability for maintaining such bridges, subject to an assessment of compensation which should be paid by CIE to a local authority in view of the fact that the local authority are taking over a liability from CIE. That can be fixed actuarially but at least it will be a once-and-for-all job; compensation will be paid by CIE to the local authority and from there on the local authority will take over 100 per cent responsibility.

It is not a continuing liability?

Would there be legal expenses?

Yes. At least it will get rid of a situation where CIE are, year in, year out, dealing administratively and having a staff devoted to this task which is so logically within the realm of the local authority whose staff are doing all the works adjacent to the particular bridges.

Senator Flanagan raised the point about the structure of the bridges being still the function of CIE. That is not changing.

The fencing?

That would be part of the structure. The parapet——

But I mean on the ramp. From the point where the ramp starts——

——is CIE property.

——that is the portion of road the responsibility for which you are now transferring to the county council.

No, no. It is the actual road surface.

Yes, the surface of the roads. What about the fencing on that? As you increase in height, the land on the inside belongs to the railway company. No fence——

That is the property of CIE, it is not the property of the local authority at all.

It remains the property?

Yes, it remains the property.

And the responsibility for maintenance of the fencing?

Yes. We are dealing with a situation where CIE had this ancient liability to deal with roads over bridges although the property of the road vests in the local authority. It was never CIE property although CIE had the liability to repair it. What the Senator is talking about is CIE property and will remain CIE property—the fencing and the structure.

The fencing is CIE's responsibility.

That is right.

I thought I heard the Minister say that this was not a continuing liability on CIE.

It has been heretofore but will not be after the passage of this Bill.

But subsection (2) (c) says:

The Board shall pay to the road authority compensation for any expenses which the road authority may incur by reason of the liability imposed on it by this subsection.

Surely this is a continuing liability, so that there are continuing expenses?

The Senator is right. One sum of money will be assessed actuarially as to what is the value of the burden which will be undertaken by the local authority by reason of taking over from CIE. It will be assessed as a lump sum and compensation will be paid accordingly. That will end the matter, once and for all—compensation paid for present and anticipated expenses. Then the whole liability will shift to the local authority.

That is the ideal situation; but supposing a local authority does not agree, presumably there is no transfer?

Section 28 deals with the arbitration procedures. There is an arbitration procedure here as well.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 27 agreed to.
SECTION 28.
Question proposed: "That section 28 stand part of the Bill."

How does an arbitrator assess future liability?

I should like to raise the point that Senator Russell has made. Are these actuarial calculations going to take into account the decrease in the value of money over the next 100 years?

They will take account of what the cost has been over the past ten or 12 years and the probable decrease in the value of money over the next ten or 12 years.

Strike an average.

The Minister feels that there will not be any problem once the arbitrator has arbitrated in getting the local authority to play ball?

They have to because under section 26 "The Board shall pay to the road authority", and section 26 also provides specifically for the cesser of liability of the board to maintain certain road surfaces on over-line bridges. Once the arbitrator makes the award, it is mandatory on everybody concerned.

I am all in favour of this because certainly CIE would benefit financially from it.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 29.
Question proposed: "That section 29 stand part of the Bill."

I should like to welcome this particular section regarding the medical examinations for drivers of locomotives. I am very conscious of accidents involving any type of public transport, whether aeroplanes or railway engines. In a large number of cases the cause of the accident will be found to be human error. I am quite sure that a health defect of some kind can be a contribution to human error. I live near Dún Laoghaire railway station and in the past 18 months or so there were three minor derailments there. My admiration went out to CIE when I made an inquiry as to what investigation had been made into these derailments and what the cause had been. I received back a very prompt letter which made the straightforward admission that human error had been the factor in each case. I was very impressed by that frankness and I welcome this section of the Bill, which provides for medical examinations for locomotive drivers.

I note the point that, if a driver is found to have a health or an eyesight defect of some kind, he may not be retained in the employment of the board as a locomotive driver. I should like to point out to the Minister that there may be an element of domestic hardship here. A man may have been driving a locomotive for a number of years and may have become used to a salary at a particular level. If that man loses his job as a result of a medical examination, I think it can on occasions be very difficult for CIE to find alternative employment for him which will give him a salary equivalent to what he has been used to in his particular capacity. I know this is true of bus driving and bus conducting, for example. I have no particular experience of locomotive driving, but I imagine it is the case.

Although I know that CIE make efforts to try to meet such cases by finding alternative employment, may I just make the point to the Minister that, even if a man has to be satisfied with a form of employment with CIE which does not give him the income to which he has been accustomed, I think it would be a very welcome step by CIE if, only for a limited period, they might agree to continue the man at his wage or at least reduce the wage by degrees so that the man could adjust his domestic circumstances to the change. This is the type of change which should be fully discussed between management and unions. I imagine there has not been a case of this kind so far. If and when the situation does arise that some locomotive driver loses his job as a result of a medical examination, I hope we will not suddenly find ourselves involved in an industrial dispute because nobody has taken the trouble to anticipate the likely difficulty and thrash out the problem in advance. I should just like to make those comments in welcoming this section.

I do not think it should go out from this House that CIE have not, in fact, been carrying out medical examinations on their drivers and their other staff. As far as I know, they have. I think Senator Dooge mentioned that this was only giving statutory enactment to what, in fact, was being done by CIE.

I should like to support Senator Keery's observations on the question of a man disemployed as a result of a medical examination. I should like to go even further than that. There should be some system of rehabilitation, because it is quite possible that a man might be found medically unfit to drive a locomotive for reasons which are only temporary and I would like to think that CIE would accept the responsibility of rehabilitating him so that he might be in a position to return to active service as a locomotive driver. If that were not possible and if his defect were a permanent one, then I would support Senator Keery because there is a substantial difference between what a man might earn, say, in a lesser position in CIE and what he would be paid as a locomotive driver.

I should like to support the two previous Senators. As Senator Russell has said, it would not be right for people to get the impression that medical examinations are not carried out in CIE. As a matter of fact, without this section, even if an employee is out ill for, say, a month or six weeks, the company can send him to their medical officer to have him examined and if the medical officers decide he is unfit to drive then he is not allowed to.

CIE make every effort to arrange alternative employment. It is not easy at all times, but then there is an early retirement pension, which is good. It is not as good as one's wages but when one is unable to drive it is some source of consolation. In my experience CIE never lose an opportunity of trying to get alternative employment for somebody who can no longer drive.

The position is that CIE have always made a medical examination a condition of employment for new entrants to the grade of locomotive driver. They are very concerned about the need to have periodic medical examination extended to all locomotive drivers, not just new entrants into the grade. This is the reason for this section: to ensure that there will be periodic medical examinations extended to existing working locomotive drivers apart from the compulsory medical examination that is there in regard to entrants into this category. I think it is a very important section to have in the Bill. It is common practice in all European railways to have this periodic medical examination compulsory as far as working locomotive drivers are concerned.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 30 agreed to.
SECTION 31.
Question proposed "That section 31 stand part of the Bill."

Subsection (1) applies, I believe, to the bridge between Fiddown and Portlaw. The present toll is one old penny and the board wish to increase the toll. May I ask the Minister to what figure they wish to increase the toll, or have they made up their minds?

No, they have not made up their minds yet what toll to charge. It enables CIE to charge whatever toll they think fit.

Is there any point in charging a toll on this particular bridge? Is there some good legal reason for charging a toll on this bridge?

The trouble is that in regard to a number of other sections we got co-operation from Local Government and the local authorities concerned. In this case we did not, so we have to charge a toll. The relevant county councils, Waterford and Kilkenny, have refused to cooperate with us here. We have to maintain it. We are under statutory obligation to charge a toll. We wanted this also to be unloaded on the local authority as we have done in other cases. The local authority refused in this case.

So, if the toll is to be realistic, it will be more than one new penny?

A lot more.

What is the Waterford and Limerick Railway (Deviations) Act, 1851?

I do not know why "Deviations" is there.

Let it go.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 32 to 34, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 35.
Question proposed: "That section 35 stand part of the Bill."

What is the purpose of this? Is it the complete transfer of employees to the American company? Does it disassociate them completely from the jurisdiction of CIE?

The trouble is that they are an American-based company. We cannot legislate directly for an American-based company or for their staff, so we have to do it through CIE. Subsection (1) reads:

The Board shall ensure that the American Company shall furnish to the Minister such information as he may from time to time require regarding matters which relate to its activities, other than day-to-day administration, and which appear to him to affect the national interest.

It is proposed that the American subsidiary be subject to official control in the same way as CIE and the other subsidiaries: Aerlód Teoranta and Ostlanna Iompair Éireann. The purpose of section 35 is to make similar provision in respect of this American subsidiary, which is concerned with tours promotion in America, as is made in the Transport Act, 1963, in respect of OIE and is being made here in sections 33 and 34 in respect of Aerlód Teoranta. It means that the American subsidiary will be subject to the Minister for Transport and Power in the same way as CIE are subject to him under section 16 of the Transport Act, 1950.

And that all rights to employees, such as pension rights, will continue to be guaranteed by CIE.

The purpose is to make CIE liable as the company here under our jurisdiction because we could not legislate for a company registered in America such as Tours International, which is an American company.

Is it 50/50?

No. It is entirely financed but American registered, the purpose of that being to facilitate business arrangements in America. It facilitates business to have an American company dealing with it rather than have an Irish company doing business in America.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 36.
Question proposed: "That section 36 stand part of the Bill."

Section 36 applies to penalties for pulling the communication cord in circumstances in which it is not warranted. This happens extensively in trains known as "football specials" and very little elsewhere. This penalty really applies to the returning footballers or, perhaps, the more enthusiastic football fans. I should like to ask the Minister, seeing that this offence is committed specifically by this group of people—and by football I include, of course, hurling and other such dangerous sports—what provision have the company made to deter the more enthusiastic football fans from swinging out of the communication cord on these trains, apart from increasing the penalty. I ask this because unless one has officials in every carriage it is difficult to discover who has pulled the cord because these trains are generally packed full of people, none of whom is liable to cooperate with the officials of the company. Could I ask if the company have any means of putting a stop to this? Perhaps the information is top secret and the Minister would prefer not to give it to me, as there may be some secret detector devices employed on "football specials". I should like to know if there are any ways of deterring people apart from the £25 penalty.

Short of the company exercising discretion regarding groups for which they run special trains, there is nothing very much that can be done about it. This is very good business. They will only get a large crowd on a special occasion such as for a football match or something of that kind. This type of irresponsible operation in regard to the communication cord has been substantially on the increase. It is a reflection, unfortunately, of the society in which we live. CIE are very concerned about it. On some of these special occasions there is continuous cord pulling going on, which delays trains. There is very little that can be done about it beyond imposing as stiff a penalty as possible. We are raising the penalty from £5 to £25. Beyond asking the courts to impose severe penalties, there is little more we can do. It is a totally irresponsible type of offence that has no justification. It is complete vandalism and it should be treated very severely in the courts. I cannot see what else can be done in the way of deterring it.

I would just suggest that, if the train is being hired by fans of one particular club or by a supporters' club, and if it is found necessary to employ extra manpower, as British Rail have to do in certain cases, this should be a charge on the club involved.

It is not really a hiring of the train that is involved so much as a cheap rate. Certainly, I would like to have suggestions as to how to prevent or detect this type of offence, because it is on the increase.

I welcome this section but I think it does not go far enough. There is another type of vandalism which I thought should have been included and that is the cutting of seats with knives. I have seen examples of that.

That comes under ordinary law, damage to property. There is no need to include that here.

Is the penalty high enough?

Pulling the communication cord is an offence peculiar to trains, whereas this is part of the general law relating to malicious damage to property. It would be more appropriate to a Bill dealing with that.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 37.
Question proposed: "That section 37 stand part of the Bill."

Certain level crossings are referred to. Are these level crossings which are no longer in use or does it cover all crossings and is there any speed limit?

This is another outdated provision that we are cleaning up under these very interesting miscellaneous provisions. This relates to what used to be called turnpike roads, going back again to the 1845 Act. Turnpike roads are no longer in existence. Section 48 of the Railway Act, 1845 imposed certain obligations that, where any railway crossed a turnpike road at a level crossing adjoining a station, all trains should be made to slacken their speed before arriving at such turnpike road and should not cross the road at any greater rate of speed than four miles per hour. Turnpike roads and public carriage roads were what are now public roads, but it could not be established without considerable research which particular public roads were originally turnpike roads. CIE are anxious that what is now a completely outdated provision— for all practical purposes a dead letter —should be repealed.

Is there no limit to the speeds at level crossings?

May I make a small point here, which I might not otherwise get an opportunity to make, regarding speed at level crossings? One thing which we are very much inclined to overlook is the tremendous increase in the speed of trains and indeed the weight of trains. Even though the distance may be quite short there are occasions on which I, as a commuter, shudder to think of the speed at which trains from Dublin to Dún Laoghaire, for example, cross at Merrion Gates. I am not quite sure if that would have been a turnpike road or not, but the speed is enormous. I was very impressed at the precautions taken in Britain in anticipation of a major train disaster, where literally the resources of several counties have exercises regurarly because of the speeds and numbers of people involved. This may well be a routine here but it is certainly the sort of thing that Civil Defence, hospitals and so on need to plan for: this awful contingency should anything go wrong.

This has been described as a tidying up Bill and it certainly does affect many previous Acts dealing with railways. A person who wanted to find out as quickly as possible to what extent previous Acts had been affected would turn to the end of the Bill to find what repeals were effected by the Bill. The repeals are normally put at the end of an Act. He would find the section dealing with repeals and might come to the conclusion that these were the only repeals involved. But on looking back through the Bill there is another section, section 20, which deals also with repeals. The justification for that, to some extent, is that these are the repeals effected under Part II. That, unfortunately, is not the end of the story because if you look further through the Bill you find there is a completely separate repeal under section 25 and there is another repeal under section 31. It is, therefore, extremely difficult for a person who wants to know what repeals have been effected under this Bill. He has to go right through the Bill, and I would suggest to the Minister that he should consider putting a Schedule of repeals at the end of the Bill which would show what previous Acts have been affected. It is the kind of Bill in which this separate Schedule is particularly appropriate and I would urge him to consider doing that.

I am grateful to Senator Eoin Ryan for that suggestion. On going through the Bill I take his point very well. There are a number of amendments and outright repeals throughout the Bill, being of the miscellaneous nature that it is. It started out originally as a County Donegal Railways Joint Committee Bill and then we decided to do a tidying up operation on a lot of legislative deadwood so that the miscellaneous provisions now cover as much of the Bill as the original Bill itself. It is appropriate in a Bill of this kind to have the type of Schedule suggested by Senator Eoin Ryan. Certainly we can incorporate that in the Bill between now and Report Stage.

Question put and agreed to.
SCHEDULE.
Question proposed "That the Schedule be the Schedule to the Bill."

On paragraph (13) I should like to ask the Minister about the problem of shareholders in the Strabane Company and in the Joint Committee. I think one of them was dealt with earlier in section 7 of the Bill. This deals with the compensation of shareholders of shares in the Strabane Company. I asked the Minister earlier what happened to shareholders in the County Donegal Railway Company. That comes under the Joint Committee.

First of all, there are no private shareholders in the County Donegal Railways Joint Committee. That is the point. The County Donegal Railways Joint Committee is owned equally by the British Railways Board and the Great Northern Railway Board. The GNR Board is made up of CIE and the Ulster Transport Authority, now the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company. The Schedule to the Bill represents the agreement entered into by CIE with British Railways. In effect, that is where the real agreement lies.

What the Schedule means is that CIE, by agreement with British Railways, are taking over the British Railways interest in the Joint Committee and merging the Joint Committee as a whole into CIE. CIE have also entered into a separate agreement, which is not incorporated here, with the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company to take over their interests. This agreement in the Schedule is an agreement between British Railways and CIE in relation to their joint shareholding in the County Donegal Railways Joint Committee.

Presumably that means the shareholders of the County Donegal Railway Company were compensated at an earlier stage?

They were compensated at the time the Joint Committee was established.

Question put and agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Report Stage ordered for Wednesday, 24th March, 1971.
The Seanad adjourned at 9.5 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday, 11th March, 1971.