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Unread 03-03-2012, 18:12   #190
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: North Tipperary
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Minister of State Alan Kelly has described claims that new Nenagh-Dublin train services could cost €20,000 per day as “completely inaccurate”.
An article in last Monday’s Irish Independent claimed that Iarnród Éireann’s new spring/summer timetable on the Nenagh line, which is due to commence next Monday, would cost the company almost €20,000 per day to run.
The article pointed out that the loss-making route serves Minister Kelly’s home constituency. It said the Minister of State at the Dept of Transport was “sharply criticised” last year for “encouraging” Iarnród Éireann to provide an extra train to bring Tipp fans to the All-Ireland Final.
Only 73 people per day use the Limerick-Ballybrophy line, which serves Nenagh, and less than 50 of these use if for commuting. Two major reports have recommended that the route be closed due to its lack of use, and the fact that it is quicker to drive from Nenagh to Dublin, or Ballybrophy.
The Irish Independent article said the decision to provide extra trains contravenes these recommendations on the line and would cost Iarnród Éireann “hundreds of thousands of euro”.
Minister Kelly described these figures as “ridiculous”.
He said the actual daily cost of providing the extra trains would be “less than five per cent” of the amount claimed, and would relate mainly to extra fuel and maintenance costs, most of which he expected would be recouped by the volume of passengers using the services. The trains and staff are already in place and would not therefore prove a cost issue.
Minister Kelly agreed that the extra services would benefit people in his home constituency, but said the article neglected to point out that commuters in Limerick, Offaly, Laois and Kildare would also benefit.
Moreover, he said the article “did not acknowledge that the Nenagh Rail Partnership has been looking for this for many years. This shows a track record of agitation towards what people really believed was necessary, and I am delighted it has now been delivered.”
Minister Kelly added that he would “be in touch with the Independent to clarify this matter”.
Chairperson of Nenagh Rail Partnership and Nenagh Town Mayor Virginia O’Dowd said the article was “exceptionally wide of the mark and greatly misleads its readers”.
“The additional cost is less than five per cent of what is stated,” Mayor O’Dowd said. “There was no way Iarnród Éireann could spend the kind of money referred to.”
The mayor also defended her Labour party colleague’s role in securing the All-Ireland train for Tipp fans, saying the train was 98 per cent full and made a profit.
“People out there are jealous”, she concluded.
Mayor O’Dowd made her comments at last Monday night’s meeting of Nenagh Town Council, at which several councillors also defended Minister Kelly and welcomed the enhanced train services on the Nenagh line.
Cllr Hughie McGrath (Ind) said there would have to be some expenditure in order to make the new services work. The new timetable is only a trial, and he hoped it would prove successful.
Cllr Lalor McGee (Lab) said the route would benefit commuters and offer new travel options to students. The range of tickets is also reasonably priced, he added.
Cllr Conor Delaney (FG) wanted to know how long the trial period would last. He said people should be made aware that the line could still be closed if the new timetable is not availed of.
“If it doesn’t work, people have no one to blame but themselves”, he said.
Cllr Seamus Morris (SF) concurred, saying “people will be sorry” if the line is ever closed. He agreed with Mayor O’Dowd that Iarnród Éireann should consider using the line for freight again in future.
Jealous? Oh please don't make us laugh why would we be jealous of a crappy train line. The Bord Na Mona line in Littleton is in better nick. What people are sick of is politicians been heroes saving lines which should have been closed years ago. The profitable lines will only end up subsidizing services on these especially when subsidies from the state will be reduced more in the coming years. Clonmel a town of over 16,000 people and four times the patronage on the trains is in the exact same situation Nenagh was and deserves a improved train service even more. Fares have gone up in some cases over 100% since February. When will this political gombeenism in this country going to stop. Iarnród Éireann should be allowed to closed lines which are costing the state money to keep them open. A regular Limerick to Waterford Intercity service would have worked out cheaper than this without spending a single penny.

Maybe more people will use the service starting Monday but in another year or two this issue will only arise again.
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