Thursday, 17 June 2021

Questions (33)

Steven Matthews

Question:

33. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for Transport further to Parliamentary Question No. 78 of 26 May 2021, if his attention has been drawn to a proposal by Iarnród Éireann to fix the Barrow Bridge on the Waterford to Rosslare rail line in the closed to rail position later in June 2021; the potential damage this may do to the bridge; and if he will request that this proposal is deferred until the strategic rail review is completed. [32401/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Deputy is aware, a Strategic Rail Review will commence shortly and the procurement process is well underway in relation to that Review. This Review will examine the rail network on the island of Ireland in relation to improving sustainable connectivity between the major cities, enhancing regional accessibility, supporting balanced regional development and rail connectivity to our international gateways, with the latter also considering the role of rail freight.

The Review will also consider the potential scope for improved rail services along the various existing, or future potential, corridors of the network and that scope will certainly include the potential afforded by disused and closed lines such as the Wexford to Waterford line.

With regard to the Barrow Bridge, I can inform the Deputy that I am aware of the matter raised and indeed discussed the issue previously in the House in relation to this line generally.

As previously stated, it is the case the line has been closed to scheduled services for almost 11 years now. The National Transport Authority and Iarnód Éireann have agreed that, reflecting that fact, the bridge should be left in the ‘open’ position for marine traffic as trade continues of course in the port of New Ross. I am informed that the planned securing of the bridge in the open position in no way removes the future functionality of the bridge for carrying rail traffic should services on this line resume, nor, I would stress, does it in any way impede consideration of the line in the context of the Strategic Rail Review. I understand that Iarnód Éireann will ensure the continued functionality of the bridge through scheduled movements which will allay potential concerns that may exist as regards the permanency of the changed position.

I look forward to the Strategic Rail Review and its consideration of the strategic potential of the rail network on the island of Ireland, including the Wexford to Waterford line.