Ceisteanna—Questions . Oral Answers . - CIE Rolling Stock .

11.

asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport the plans, if any, CIE have for replacing the existing rolling stock with new equipment and the method of financing which is envisaged.

(Dublin South-Central): With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 10 and 11 together.

CIE have submitted to my Department proposals for the electrification of the suburban rail service from Howth to Bray, including new rolling stock and resignalling of the line. The Board has also submitted proposals for the acquisition of new mainline carriages.

The proposals have been subject to a detailed study by the Department, and consultation with other Departments concerned is now proceeding with a view to seeking a decision by the Government in the matter.

Apart from the proposal for the electrification of the Howth-Bray service, CIE have not yet submitted their formal proposals for the provision of a rail rapid transit system for Dublin.

: Could the Minister for State indicate when the proposal was submitted by CIE? Am I correct in saying it was submitted last January?

(Dublin South-Central): Last April.

: Is the Minister for State aware of the very serious situation with which CIE are confronted at present by reason of the fact that most of the rolling stock has become obsolete? Is it not a fact that CIE, last week-end had to cancel a number of Dublin suburban rail services to make rolling stock available for provincial services to cater for the bank holiday week-end rush? Has the position not now been reached in which the whole question assumes an emergency situation? When will the Government be likely to take a decision?

(Dublin South-Central): As I have already mentioned in my answer, memoranda have been circulated to various Government Departments concerned. When these are received back from Departments then a memorandum will be circulated to the Government. I cannot say when a decision will be taken in that respect. It depends when the memoranda are received.

: Would the Minister agree that it is a matter of great urgency?

(Dublin South-Central): Certainly I would agree that there is extreme urgency in regard to the rolling stock on some of the lines.

: Could the Minister indicate to the House if at this stage any deadline has been set by the prime Department concerned for the other Departments to submit their response to the memoranda? When can we expect a memorandum to go before the Government?

(Dublin South-Central): We have not specified any particular date by which they must be returned. But there is no doubt that if they are held for too long, naturally the Department will be in touch with the other Departments; that is normal practice.

: Might I ask the Minister if he could ensure that the other main Government Departments concerned respond, as a matter of urgency, because it looks now as if we will have no Government decision on this matter for at least another six months?

(Dublin South-Central): Yes, I will.

: I have two questions. First, which other Government Departments, apart from the Department of Finance, are concerned in this consultation?

(Dublin South-Central): There are quite a number of others concerned—the Department of the Taoiseach, the Department of Finance, the Department of Industry, Commerce and Energy, the Department of Economic Planning and Development, the Department of Labour, the Department of the Environment, the Department of Education, the Department of Social Welfare, the Department of Defence and the Department of the Public Service.

: Would the Minister agree that that enormous list of Departments which have to be brought into the simple question of whether to give Dublin a decent rail transport system is a device for stalling any decision on this issue?

(Dublin South-Central): Far from it. They all have a bearing on it.

: What bearing have the Department of Defence on this issue?

(Dublin South-Central): We have free transport on behalf of the Department of Defence.

: How should that bear on whether to electrify the Howth to Bray line? Would the Minister agree that that Department could be asked for their views on their very tiny dimension of the problem and could give those views by lunchtime on the day on which they were asked?

(Dublin South-Central): That is only one that comes to mind.

: Deputy Kelly has asked four questions; he said he wanted to ask two.

: Would the Minister tell the House if there is any other city in western Europe in which the passenger rolling stock of its suburban train services is as scruffy and broken down as in Dublin?

(Dublin South-Central): I would not altogether agree with the Deputy in regard to some on which I have travelled.

: Tell us where. Baghdad? Anywhere west of that?

(Dublin South-Central): I should like to remind the Deputy that he was four years in these benches and could have done something about that.

: This CIE proposal goes much further than the mere question of the Dublin services. Is it a fact that built into the CIE proposal there was another important proposal whereby a continental firm were to build the rolling stock in Dublin and provide 300 jobs? In view of the Government's professed commitment to job creation, surely this should be an important element in their consideration of the whole package.

(Dublin South-Central): That element has been taken into consideration.

: I suggest that there may have been some unnecessary confusion by virtue of the fact that the Minister took two questions together. Deputy Barry Desmond's question refers to the proposal to electrify the suburban rail system. I would ask the Minister to clarify an earlier reply he gave in which he mentioned April of this year.

(Dublin South-Central): April 1977.

: Arising out of that clarification, this memorandum has been there for over a year and was with the previous Government for a number of months, though I presume they were otherwise preoccupied. Could the Minister give any indication when the memorandum was prepared, when it was issued to the Departments of Social Welfare, Defence, Industry, Commerce and Energy, Economic Planning and Development and the various other Departments, and when we can expect some kind of reply?

(Dublin South-Central): I cannot say when the reply will come, as I told another Deputy. They have received the memorandum and I have promised Deputy Desmond that we will be in touch. I have not the information which the Deputy seeks regarding when the memorandum was sent out to the various Departments.

: The Minister is at the mercy of his own brief. If the brief does not contain that information, does it contain any indication that would enable us to reply to representations we have with regard to when we can reasonably expect not an improvement in the service to which Deputy Kelly referred but a decision on its future?

(Dublin South-Central): In April 1977 the memorandum was submitted to the Department.

: I now understand that memorandum has been circulated by the Department for which the Minister is responsible. The Minister must have some timetable in regard to getting this to the Cabinet for a decision. I am simply trying to get an estimate.

(Dublin South-Central): I could not give an estimate at this time. I am not sure how long it will take the various Departments to examine this complicated proposal.

: I accept that it is complicated. I would ask the Minister to give an undertaking to attempt to get a prompt reply from Departments which have a marginal interest, such as the Departments of Defence and Social Welfare.

(Dublin South-Central): I have already stated that I will undertake to do this.

: Could the Minister put a time on it?

(Dublin South-Central): I could not.

: Will the Minister come clean and admit that this whole question of reaching a decision regarding CIE's proposal is purely a financial one and that it is the Department of Finance who are holding up the whole thing? It is only whitewashing to say that the Department of Social Welfare have an involvement.

(Dublin South-Central): All these Departments have to be consulted. The Deputy knows this perfectly well from being in Government.

: Question No. 12.

: One last question.

: They were all last questions.

: Would the Minister indicate how it will affect a beneficiary of free travel if the carriage is pulled by an electric motor or a diesel motor? What will be the net difference to such a beneficiary?

: That is not a suitable question. Question No. 12.

: Change over to turf.