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Friday, August 6, 2010

I told you so!

I’m not hugely surprised by the publication of the SERA report into the Limerick Rosslare rail line. There’s nothing in it that I never suspected or said. The report is an indictment of the centralised ethos that pervades Iarnród Éireann. It might have been acceptable in Todd Andrews day to tell a demoralised people that the local line was shutting just as nowadays its acceptable to spoof that while there is no money to re-open a line it’ll be alright in 2015. But its not acceptable any longer to threat communities as though they’ve no right to consultation and after enduring years of being ignored on how their service was provided to say as Irish Rail did last April, it’s the local authorities fault, the area has too few people and we’ve tried our best.
This report bins that spin.

What the Save the Rail group always said is backed up to the hilt! Link Waterford and Wexford, run more trains, draw in community support for the line, integrate the timetable to boats, buses and other rail services. They estimate that more than 600 passengers could use this train each day if that is done. That’s more than the Western Rail Corridor was projected to carry. And all of that can be done for very little as the line is still up and running.

They report says that the Irish Rail case to close contains a number of “critical aspects which are flawed”. It singles out the Strategic Rail Review recommendation that no investment should be undertaken at the expense of priority investment and that economic evaluation does not support investment in the Rosslare Limerick line. As I’ve pointed out there is EU funding available to upgrade the line as it leads to a TEN. Clearly there is no interest in IE or in the Government in accessing this cash.

The report agrees with my view that the real origin of the line is Wexford and if you count the population within in 10 Km of the line there is 125,000 within reach of this lightly used line. But what is astonishing is that IE have been running the train in the wrong direction! For years the number of people commuting into Wexford is 3 times that of the number commuting from the same parishes into Waterford! Is it any owned it was lightly used? Doh!

The report focuses on the actual definition of what economic actually means. It points out that increasing frequency can increase patronage. The opposite is true as well, can you believe that the letters C,I & E are found in the word “economic”? Irish Rail’s neglect of Sail Rail is now effectively an international embarrassment as the UK Department of Transport and Stena both unprompted commented to the reporters on their failure to provide rail connections out of Rosslare Europort. Irish Rails business case for closure is based on data that ignores any other market than those going to work in Waterford.
Irish Rail has been exposed in this report for poor analysis of the regions needs. I’ve arrived at the conclusion that they don’t deserve the line any more. Its time that they were told that the line will be open to competition and that if another operator wants to provide a service in addition or instead of them then they don’t need to hang around any longer if they don’t want to. As they say in Rosslare Harbour its time for them to shape up or ship out!

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