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Blog - RUI Election Blog

And so we have an election on or before the 11th of March. It is a sure bet that in that election we shall have a Fine Gael Labour coalition, a less sure bet that we shall have a Labour Sinn Féin one and a totally unsure one that we will see Fianna Fáil in power in any shape or form for the foreseeable future.

This is not the time to go into the abject failings of Noel Dempsey TD, the now retired and gone Minister for Transport. Suffice to say that he was so hopeless that he could not even get the Navan Railway prioritised and into his home town and when you can say that about a Fianna Fáil TD you are saying it all, really. What we will say is that we refrained from commenting on his retirement when he announced it, because there wasn't anything TO say when railways were concerned. Pat Carey TD will do the same, which is a whole ball of nothing.

Let us instead look at all their failings, from 1997 to 2011. Together they did more or less nothing for the long suffering rail users, with the late Seamus Brennan being perhaps the only realistic and active Minister in the time period, and before you accuse us of being nice, he didn't do much either.

In fact, looking back, how many of them can you even remember? Well, we had Mary O'Rourke, Seamus Brennan, Martin Cullen, Noel Dempsey and now Pat Carey.

In that time we have witnessed the first and only real sustained investment in the railways in perhaps one hundred years. Not that they can claim the credit for it, it just in fact happened that way, insofar as the country was so awash with money that they chucked some at the railways and hoped that it would stick. Don't forget that during this time we were faced with the risk of widespread line closures, the selling off of railway stock and infrastructure and the almost total abandonment of ministerial governance of CIE and IE.

In fact, after unprecedented spending on railways in this state, with new rolling stock, new stations and new track - this is exactly the same situation we are in today.

Nothing could be more damming of their monumental failure than that statement.

The rail stock that was replaced had to be replaced, lest it started killing passengers. Only six years ago we were still using clapped out stock which was a danger to the passenger - no-body can claim credit for actually buying in carriages that were fit for purpose.

The creation of the many quangos - a hallmark of the outgoing regime - at first liberating as it meant that CIE had less of a grip on everything - became a noose around everyone's neck and now seems to be going the way of all things associated with the 1997-2011 governments into the bin.

The creation of Transport21 - a policy which is not a policy, a website that is changed every time a deadline is missed, a course of action is altered or a project is knifed - perhaps is the ultimate indictment of all. Checking it today and seeing the laughable insertion of the Docklands Station as an achievement when it is a very large white elephant - just brings back the memories, not to mention the satisfaction of seeing that the DASH2 project is now set to be finished in "2012". Previous versions of the site showing the previous deadlines for this are not referenced, for in the mindset of this government none ever existed, down the memory hole, the mis-reported date to be forgotten forever.

So, that's that, lots of new kit, same problems. Times have not decreased at all. Frequency outside of Dublin has been increased here and there but the reason for the acquisition of the Intercity Railcar Fleet - a service every two hours on every line each way - has gone down the memory hole. The railcars are fast developing the same set of problems as the clapped out carriages they replaced. Lack of information is rife, the management of the company treat it like a personal fiefdom and in the end we are hopefully waiting on a new broom and a new mindset to tackle the real and solvable problems and bring us the proper 21st Century railway which, after all, is needed to allow the country to compete internationally and to develop its future.

Last Updated: January 24 2011 09:32:38
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