asked the Minister for Transport and Power the action he proposes to take to improve travelling conditions between Ireland and Great Britain.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Cross-Channel Travelling Conditions.
I have consulted the bodies under the aegis of my Department who are responsible for the provision of transport services between this country and Great Britain.
As far as air transport is concerned, Aer Lingus are constantly striving to improve their service and are very conscious of the need to keep standards high. Frequencies in all routes, including cross-channel services, are tailored to demand and are high by European standards. Special fares and arrangements are designed to provide a wide range of choice for the travelling public.
As regards surface travel, the B & I Line likewise constantly review their range of fares and special travel arrangements. The company recently placed an order with Verolme Dockyard for a fourth car ferry which will provide accommodation for 1,500 passengers and will have a carrying capacity of 350 tourist cars. This new ferry, which will come into service in 1978, will incorporate the latest standards in passengers facilities.
For the Deputy's further information, I understand that British Rail have decided to introduce a new large multi-purpose ship on their Irish services in 1977. This ship, named St. Columba will operate on the Holy-head/Dún Laoghaire route and will greatly increase capacity for both cars and passengers.
Has the Minister noted the criticism of conditions of travel to this country as expressed by the Chairman of the Federation of Irish Societies in Britain?
Yes, I have seen that.
Does the Minister propose to have this matter investigated?
Does the Minister accept that if the statement is false it should be refuted and that if it is true action should be taken to improve the situation?
I accept both points.
Could the Minister recommend to Aer Lingus that they start a Friday afternoon or evening flight from London to Shannon because of the number of people who would like to visit the west for weekends? A number of people in the London area have told me that they would be satisfied with one flight from London to Shannon on Friday afternoon or Friday evening.
I will discuss the matter with Aer Lingus.