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Unread 14-09-2010, 17:38   #21
James Howard
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From the perspective of somebody who practically lives on the Sligo line, but who has never used the Rosslare - Waterford line, it does appear to me that Irish Rail have basically willfully wound this service up and have been building the business case since the beet trains ended.

Freight is now a red herring - it doesn't exist in any meaningful quantity anymore apart from the odd bulk service.

If you look at the Sligo line, what has made a massive difference is the two-hour service. 10 or 15 years ago, it was the default choice to drive to Dublin city centre from Longford, but this is no longer true. We now have a service every 2 hours and in the morning and evening peaks, the gap is less than an hour. Irish Rail were very clever over the last couple of years with the attention grabbing 10 euro day returns which got people onto the trains. Once people get into the habit, they will quite willingly pay the normal 25 euro day return and sit down with a paper and a cup of coffee.

If you compare the Waterford/Rosslare service, it appears to me that the same strategy would at least have been worth a try. Yes, Waterford station is in an awkward place, but Dublin Connolly isn't exactly convenient for the hospitals or south city centre shopping districts which are the main destinations for day trippers. Irish Rail have obviously decided the (relatively) high-frequency approach works given that they have adopted the same idea on the WRC.

But to test this approach woudl have required getting the operational costs of the line in order. Irish Rail have concluded (correctly in my opinion) that the only way to keep the service running is to automate signalling and level crossings and get the staffing levels down. This is what is happening on the Sligo line.

Now if it had been three or four years ago, it would have been a simple matter to go an ask the Brians to get the checkbook out. But this is out of the question now. The writing is on the wall for all infrastructural investment beyond keeping the lights on and there is no way that anybody is going to start investing millions into a service with a proven revenue base barely stretching into six figures. There was also the matter of the fact that a lot of the line needed renewing.

So this year, rightly or wrongly, the Irish Rail subsidy was cut and they needed to find a few million to keep the system running. So they shut down the lowest revenue and highest cost part of the system.

It is a sad end and one hopes that they will maintain it to the extent that it can be started up again in a few years if there is a few quid to spend. It would certainly be have been preferable to invest in the rail service than building a white elephant of a motorway to Waterford where the traffic level is so low that it isn't economically viable to man a toll booth. But the money is spent now and what's done is done.

Those of us who depend on the Sligo can count our lucky stars that the bulk of the automation work is done because if the Sligo service was still performing the same as it was back in the early 90's, we would have been waving goodbye to it as well.
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Unread 14-09-2010, 17:40   #22
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Railways sure as eggs ARE in competition with Motorwyas and if they donbt buck up their ideas and improve their services they are going to be on a downward spiral.
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Unread 14-09-2010, 17:43   #23
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Default Freight On The Railways

Whilst very few freight operations would be possible without a subsidy. Remember Railways have a disadvantage of having to maintain their infrastructure whilst lorries do not. A subsidy helps to close this disadvantage. There are many reasons why it is better to move freight from the roads to the railways. Air polution, congestion and for green issues. One freight train takes many lorry loads off the roads. It was mentioned that the single track limits train movements & limits the scope for expansion. Better timetabling and investments in passing loops and dualing the busier sections would partly aleviate this problem. If some of the vast amounts of money that was spent on these motorways had been spent on the rail network then it would have been in much better shape to compete
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Unread 14-09-2010, 18:52   #24
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One freight train takes many lorry loads off the roads.
Only if going from one railhead to another, only if it's okay that it all go at once, and only if it's okay to delay it in transit to allow priority to passenger traffic. Even semistates like An Post and Bord na Mona which you would think could be leaned on no longer use mainline freight rail.
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Unread 14-09-2010, 20:09   #25
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Its not as simple as one freight train equals so many lorries.

The freight will have to be delivered to the railhead (by truck as often as not) and loaded. This takes time. Whilst the first wagon is being loaded, the truck that brought it to the railhead could have be on its way to destination and so could all the other trucks so that by the time the 40th truck has discharged into the rail wagon , the first lorry might nearly have arrived. The same applies when the freight train arrives at destination only to take time unloading into lots of trucks for possibly many destinations, to which the original Lorries could of course have gone to directly.This is a disadvantage only countered by long distances, of which there arent any in Ireland as already said..

Add to this that there really arent any bulk flows of goods available for rail to move anyway and the conclusion is rail freight is a dead duck.

Last edited by corktina : 14-09-2010 at 20:11.
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Unread 15-09-2010, 11:08   #26
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Railways sure as eggs ARE in competition with Motorwyas and if they donbt buck up their ideas and improve their services they are going to be on a downward spiral.
I have to disagree, name one country that has better rail services then Ireland that doesn't have far better motorway infrastructure.

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If you look at the Sligo line, what has made a massive difference is the two-hour service
despite the road improvements to Sligo
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Unread 15-09-2010, 12:36   #27
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Other countries are not that relevant here. They tend to be more populous if they have better rail and motorway.

In any case I nominate the UK. Try to find a motorway from Reading to Birmingham (ie second busiest provincial station to first busiest.) You would either have to travel as far as Oxford on second rate A road or use M4 to join A34 (trunk road, more or less a motorway) to Oxford again...the long way round

Most of the main irish routes now ahve or soon will have paralell motorways.
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Unread 15-09-2010, 14:31   #28
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Other countries are not that relevant here. They tend to be more populous if they have better rail and motorway.

In any case I nominate the UK. Try to find a motorway from Reading to Birmingham (ie second busiest provincial station to first busiest.) You would either have to travel as far as Oxford on second rate A road or use M4 to join A34 (trunk road, more or less a motorway) to Oxford again...the long way round

Most of the main irish routes now ahve or soon will have paralell motorways.
What? Reading to Birmingham is grade-separated dual carriageway the whole way: M4, A34, M40 is a direct route. Britain's motorway and dual carriageway network is comprehensive, and long distance buses are not really popular there - they are seen as only an option for very tight budgets.

Cars are not a huge threat to the rail service, as people who drive a lot don't take the train now, and never did before, and the number of cars in Ireland is not growing.

However, fast, cheap, bus services ARE a threat, especially as they are cheap. But they are not faster than the train on any route yet, and trains will still miles ahead on comfort. Train travel has not suffered a bigger loss then other public transport numbers in this recession yet.

Although, some countries have protected their train service from buses - it's illegal to run intercity bus services in Germany, for example. Not that I would advocate this here.
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Unread 15-09-2010, 14:54   #29
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What? Reading to Birmingham is grade-separated dual carriageway the whole way: M4, A34, M40 is a direct route. Britain's motorway and dual carriageway network is comprehensive, and long distance buses are not really popular there - they are seen as only an option for very tight budgets.

Cars are not a huge threat to the rail service, as people who drive a lot don't take the train now, and never did before, and the number of cars in Ireland is not growing.

However, fast, cheap, bus services ARE a threat, especially as they are cheap. But they are not faster than the train on any route yet, and trains will still miles ahead on comfort. Train travel has not suffered a bigger loss then other public transport numbers in this recession yet.

Although, some countries have protected their train service from buses - it's illegal to run intercity bus services in Germany, for example. Not that I would advocate this here.
It is not a direct route...you have to drive 20 miles west before heading North. Noone, except for trucks who are obliged too, uses that route.

I enjoy the relaxing train journey but it doesnt go from where I am to where I want to be like my car does , it takes longer (and a lot longer as more mways open) and it costs a lot more. I can also bring passengers with me for free. No contest Im afraid and my point is that a lot more people will be following that path as they realise the train is not quicker, not cheaper and not easier.
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Unread 15-09-2010, 15:56   #30
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Other countries are not that relevant here. They tend to be more populous if they have better rail and motorway.
Wrong are you telling me that what works in many other countys wont work here? These larger populations are not homogunous and these countries have lots of sparsley populated regions and what about Luxembourg its smaller then Ireland

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In any case I nominate the UK.
Wrong. The Uk has both a better rail and motorway network then Ireland.

All countries with better railways than Ireland have better motorways, in fact the railways thrive despite all the motorways.

Contrary to what IE would have us believe it is not Motorways that kill railways, it is poor frequencys, usless timetables and shoddy services.

Cork Dublin route is the busiest in the country despite most of the road between the two being motorway. Whats the number of the motorway between Waterford and Rosslare? I cant seem to find it, in fact its the one route in Ireland where the railway is substansially shorter.

Car journeys are nearly always quicker and cheaper everywhere else as well yet the railways are busy
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Unread 15-09-2010, 15:58   #31
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Originally Posted by corktina View Post
It is not a direct route...you have to drive 20 miles west before heading North. Noone, except for trucks who are obliged too, uses that route.

I enjoy the relaxing train journey but it doesnt go from where I am to where I want to be like my car does , it takes longer (and a lot longer as more mways open) and it costs a lot more. I can also bring passengers with me for free. No contest Im afraid and my point is that a lot more people will be following that path as they realise the train is not quicker, not cheaper and not easier.
My point is that people who have cars have always done this, and so, are not going to be the cause of an exodus of train passengers.
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Unread 15-09-2010, 16:20   #32
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Wrong are you telling me that what works in many other countys wont work here? These larger populations are not homogunous and these countries have lots of sparsley populated regions and what about Luxembourg its smaller then Ireland



Wrong. The Uk has both a better rail and motorway network then Ireland.

All countries with better railways than Ireland have better motorways, in fact the railways thrive despite all the motorways.

Contrary to what IE would have us believe it is not Motorways that kill railways, it is poor frequencys, usless timetables and shoddy services.

Cork Dublin route is the busiest in the country despite most of the road between the two being motorway. Whats the number of the motorway between Waterford and Rosslare? I cant seem to find it, in fact its the one route in Ireland where the railway is substansially shorter.

Car journeys are nearly always quicker and cheaper everywhere else as well yet the railways are busy
I have told you already my opinion that ireland is different to most countries because of its popualtion spread (lack of it really)and I have demonstrated as requested one example where the rail route is better than a motorway route.SO Im not wrong thanks.

Cork to Dublin is an hourly 7 coach train.It may be the busiest in the country but it isnt anywhere near full on most journeys.

My point of course is not the status quo but the future. Rail will not be able to hold its market share, never mind increase it where it is slower and more expensive than driving.this is what I said before "if they dont buck up their ideas and improve their services they are going to be on a downward spiral."
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Unread 15-09-2010, 20:45   #33
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You paint a very depressing picture of the railways and their future! However, with sensible investment, proper timetabling and most of all promotion of the services provided, there could be a much better future. One forgets that oil is running out and the cost of fuel spirals ever upwards rail travel will hopefully become more of an attractive option for travellers. Nobody seems bothered about Green issues. Railways are by far the greenest form of travel. On the roads there are hundreds of cars with just one person in them. Is it not sensible to entice at least some of these people on to a train that carries perhaps hundreds of people doing the same journey. About freight I am not proposing that we should go back to the days of a locomotive hauling 3 wagons down a branch line, but is it not sensible to have good look at wether at least some extra feight could be transported by rail. Other countries are doing this. There is still scope for reopening mothballed commuter lines. e.g. Midleton - Youghal. Which would have also have the benefit of bringing tourists to and reviving what is a very pleasant resort. Good for new jobs and new business start ups. Single track railways can have a more extensive service. In the South West of England The 40 mile single line from Exeter to the small town of Barnstaple pop. 20K has 12 trains each way daily with only two passing loops and has had much increased useage in recent years despite being very rural and the intermeadiate stations producing small amounts of passengers. It is well marketed with special offers even though the journey time is fairly slow approx 1hr 5 mins and the rolling stock is quite old.
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Unread 15-09-2010, 21:57   #34
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yes thats what Im saying..."must try harder"
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Unread 16-09-2010, 00:16   #35
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iknowwhereiamgoing - any expansion of freight beyond trivial changes will require government support. If it's not happening under a green govt, and it's not, when will it?
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Unread 17-09-2010, 05:47   #36
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Cork to Dublin is an hourly 7 coach train.It may be the busiest in the country but it isnt anywhere near full on most journeys.
The same is true for most trains in other countries. What has led to the closing of Waterford Rosslare is how its been run full stop.

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I have told you already my opinion that ireland is different to most countries because of its popualtion spread (lack of it really)
And Luxembourg? they have better motorways, better trains lower population, only one city and a rural population in mountainous terrain.

Get off the IR mindset that motorways kill rail, they dont, its just easier to blame something else instead of looking at your own shortcomings.
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Unread 17-09-2010, 07:09   #37
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oh right so...its not the motorways that are a threat to IE, Its me.....!!!!

My point throughout is that IE need to wake up and smell the maxpax if they are going to fight Motorway competition. I won't take the train 9 times out 0f 10 because its slower and dearer and I've already paid for my car., and thats on "the busiest route in the country". What chance do the various even slower single lines have to compete once the chips are down?

Whichever way you cut it, motorways will slowly drain the passengers from InterCity.An example, one of my daughters went to Dublin not long ago and my son offered to drive her, saved her money and had a free day out in Dublin.
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Unread 17-09-2010, 07:17   #38
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However, fast, cheap, bus services ARE a threat, especially as they are cheap. But they are not faster than the train on any route yet, and trains will still miles ahead on comfort. Train travel has not suffered a bigger loss then other public transport numbers in this recession yet.
I don't know if you're referring to Irish bus services, but if you are, you're wrong I'm afraid. Dublin-Galway can be done by bus in just over 2 hours. Dublin-Belfast can be done by bus in a very competitive time than with the train service, runs hourly, it doesn't get bombed, takes you to the city centre in Belfast, and is a fraction of the price.

Tomorrow will be a very sad day in Irish Rail's history.
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Unread 17-09-2010, 08:17   #39
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My, this is all so depressing!! Other countries have had express buses and trains in competition, The train is almost always the more expensive, but most people continue to prefer the train. I know I would rather spend three hours on a train than two on a bus any day. The railways need investment to increase line speeds but also good timetables and conections with feeder lines and other forms of transport. Most people take buses for their cheaper prices rather than for any other reason. Most people enjoy train travel but how many feel the same about bus or coach travel. Someone mentioned that in Germany that long distance coach services were not allowed to compete with the railways Perhaps that should be considered here, but only after proper investment in the railways in both infrastructure, timetabling and a more adventurous fares policy. The railways are important for the future, don't give up on them, fight for investment. Lift this dark cloud.
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Unread 17-09-2010, 13:15   #40
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The railways need investment to increase line speeds but also good timetables and conections with feeder lines and other forms of transport.
Sorry, but buses are reserved for the "sister company". Try walking into Heuston next week and asking for a ticket to Campile via Plunkett.
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