Tuesday, 2 March 2004

Questions (115, 116, 117)

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

191 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if he has satisfied himself that full health and safety standards prevail throughout the road and rail public transport system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6822/04]

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Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

368 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if recent steps have been taken or are likely to be taken to maximise health and safety factors at bus stops and railway stations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7051/04]

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Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

369 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if all railway stations comply with adequate health and safety standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7052/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 191, 368 and 369 together.

Safety on the rail network is the statutory responsibility of Iarnród Éireann and the Railway Procurement Agency. Iarnród Éireann has assured me that all railway operations on its network operate to strict standards which are in place to ensure the highest level of safety for its customers and staff, and similar standards are being put in place in respect of Luas.

The Government places the highest priority on the safety of our railways and has supported a detailed railway safety programme in recent years. In the five year period to the end of 2003, in excess of €600 million was invested by Government in infrastructural safety and the development of safety management systems within Iarnród Éireann.

The railway safety task force has been reconvened with a remit to make recommendations to Government on a follow-on railway safety programme covering prioritised investment and safety management measures for the five year period 2004 to 2008. I expect the work of the task force to be completed shortly.

In addition, the Railway Safety Bill, when enacted, will provide an up-to-date framework within which railway undertakings must demonstrate safety adequacy and provides for a railway safety commission, which will have the appropriate powers to monitor and enforce compliance. The Bill also places duties on railway undertakings, their staff and third parties and requires railway undertakings to put in place formal safety management systems.

On State companies providing bus services, both Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus operate to the highest safety standard and have high training standards for their drivers. Safety of customers and staff takes precedence over all other matters.

All bus stops are sited following consultation with the Garda Síochána and the local authority and are only put in place after the Garda Síochána issues a statutory request for the stop. Safety considerations are taken fully into account in siting bus stops. In the light of the recent tragic events, it is proposed that the Department will request Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, the RPA and Iarnród Éireann to provide an assurance that facilities for passengers boarding and alighting from buses, trams and trains conform to the appropriate safety standards.

Question No. 192 answered with QuestionNo. 136.
Question No. 193 answered with QuestionNo. 138.
Question No. 194 answered with QuestionNo. 144.
Question No. 195 answered with QuestionNo. 125.
Question No. 196 answered with QuestionNo. 159.