Written Answers. - Rail Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

437 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport when extra rolling stock is likely to be made available to facilitate commuter requirements on the Kildare, Newbridge, Sallins, Hazelhatch to Dublin commuter rail routes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23418/03]

Iarnród Éireann is currently taking delivery of 80 new diesel railcars and approximately 20 of these will be allocated to the Kildare line. This will mean that peak capacity will be increased from 2,200 to 5,000. The platforms are being extended at Sallins and Hazelhatch to accommodate longer trains and a new turnback facility is being built at Newbridge. A new timetable is being introduced on the route in December with higher frequencies at peak periods.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

438 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport when extra rolling stock is likely to be made available to facilitate commuter requirements on the Kilcock, Maynooth, Leixlip, Confey to Dublin commuter rail routes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23419/03]

A much improved service was introduced by Iarnród Éireann on the Maynooth line in 2001 following Exchequer investment of €50 million on doubling the track, new signalling and 20 new diesel rail cars. As a result, additional peak services were introduced, off peak services were increased and weekend services introduced. Iarnród Éireann informs me that it is currently taking delivery of 80 new diesel rail cars for use on all Dublin suburban services, including the Maynooth line. This will facilitate the withdrawal of old carriages and lengthening of trains. Peak capacity is being increased by 26% from 3,300 persons to 4,200 persons on the Maynooth line.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

439 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport his views on whether overcrowding on the Kildare, Newbridge, Sallins, Hazelhatch commuter rail links to Dublin constitutes breaches in health and safety standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23420/03]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

440 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport his views on whether overcrowding on the various commuter trains serving Kilcock, May nooth, Leixlip and Confey to Dublin constitutes a breach in health and safety standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23421/03]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

441 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if he has satisfied himself that all commuter rail links serving the various towns in Kildare to Dublin are in compliance with health and safety standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23422/03]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 439 to 441, inclusive, together.

Iarnród Éireann has statutory responsibility for ensuring that all the safety requirements of the Transport Acts and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act are complied with on its railway. I am assured by the company that all of its services between Kildare and Dublin comply with all such requirements. I have advised the House on several previous occasions that there are no safety standards in existence at present at national or EU level in regard to the maximum number of passengers permitted on trains. Iarnród Éireann has assured me that crowding on some of its services, principally at peak travel times, does not compromise safety. However, I am very much aware of the discomfort and inconvenience crowding causes to passengers. The crowding problems experienced at peak travel times, particularly on suburban services, has developed because of the significant increase in passenger numbers using such services in recent years.

In order to address this growth in traffic, significant funding has been, and continues to be, made available by Government to Iarnród Éireann for investment to improve the safety of the network, increase the passenger capacity of the system and improve the quality, reliability and speed of services. Iarnród Éireann has ordered 80 diesel rail cars for use on suburban services and all of these rail cars should be in service by January 2004. This new rolling stock will increase the available capacity to deal with peak periods and should help to alleviate the present crowding difficulties, including on the Kildare routes. However, pending this increase in capacity, the railway inspectorate of my Department continues to monitor developments in regard to crowding on trains. The inspectorate has been in contact with Iarnród Éireann on a number of occasions drawing its attention to the importance of keeping the issue of crowding under review.

In addition, I intend to bring forward an amendment on Report Stage of the Railway Safety Bill to provide the proposed railway safety commission with the power to make regulations to address the problem of crowding on trains.

Question No. 442 answered with Question No. 410.

Question No. 443 answered with Question No. 154.