Tuesday, 2 March 2004

Questions (279, 280, 281)

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

360 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport his plans to transfer a greater amount of freight traffic to the railways; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7042/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Transport)

The responsibility for the development of rail freight rests with Iarnród Éireann. I have stated consistently that every effort should be made by the company to develop its rail freight business. The company's immediate priority is to achieve financial viability for this division of its operations. Its strategy is to develop the profitable traffic it already has, such as bulk freight and train-load traffic, and reshape the loss-making container business. I understand that the company has won new business in recent times and the fortunes of its freight operations have improved considerably. I expect that Iarnród Éireann will continue to develop its rail freight business in line with this approach.

Question No. 361 answered with QuestionNo. 129.
Question No. 362 answered with QuestionNo. 125.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

363 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the daily passenger capacity of the railway stations at Kilcock, Maynooth, Leixlip and Confey; the extent to which it is intended to increase the daily figures in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7046/04]

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I am informed by Irish Rail that, since the introduction of the new timetable in December 2003, capacity has been increased by 24% on the Maynooth route, which serves Kilcock, Maynooth, Leixlip and Confey. This has been achieved by introducing to the route some of the new fleet of 80 diesel railcars delivered over the past few months. This latest capacity increase comes on top of a 100% increase achieved in 2001 when the double tracking of the route was completed.

In addition, Irish Rail has recently placed an order for another 36 diesel railcars, which will be delivered in 2005. It is proposed that some of these railcars will operate on the Maynooth line to increase capacity further.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

364 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the extent to which daily passenger capacity is likely to be increased on the Monasterevin, Kildare, Newbridge, Sallins and Hazelhatch/Celbridge commuter routes; when it is expected to achieve these objectives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7047/04]

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Irish Rail has informed me that it has increased the commuter capacity of the Kildare route by 130% since the new timetable was introduced on 14 December 2003. A number of the new diesel railcars, acquired by Irish Rail in 2003, were assigned to the route to lengthen the trains to eight cars. In addition, new turn-back facilities at Hazelhatch and Sallins were installed to allow more efficient use of the available train paths into and out of Heuston in peak periods. Irish Rail recently ordered a further 36 diesel railcars to boost capacity on outer suburban routes serving Dublin.

Irish Rail is now proceeding with plans to quadruple a section of the route between Cherry Orchard and Hazelhatch, as part of the Kildare route project, which will enable the separation of intercity and commuting traffic and increase the capacity of the line. I await the details of the project as part of the Railway Order process. I understand the company is in the process of completing the draft order and I understand that the application will be submitted to me in the middle of this year.