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Unread 10-03-2010, 21:51   #1
Traincustomer
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Default Closure on the cards. A wanton throwaway of an asset whose potential is being ignored

From this week's Wexford People

IT WON'T be long before the whistle blows for the last time on the Rosslare to Waterford train.

Iarnród Éireann has confirmed that it is considering ending services on the line, to save money.

In a letter to Labour T.D., Brendan Howlin, the District Manager in Waterford Emmet Cotter said the line has experienced 'very low patronage' for years.

Approximately 25 passengers travel on it every day, with revenue making up only 2% of operating costs. The closure would generate 'substantial cost savings', he said.

The sugar beet industry previously helped the line to remain viable but that came to an end in 2006.

Mr. Cotter blamed a reduction in the Government's subvention to Iarnrod Eireann for the company having to consider closing the Rosslare-Waterford line which also serves the villages of Rosslare Strand, Bridgetown, Wellingtonbridge, Ballycullane and Campile.

He said the company is currently surveying customers on the route to establish their origin and destination; is discussing the possibility of re-deployment or voluntary severance with staff, and examining possible alternative services which could be provided to customers.

'A decision on the continuation of existing services on the route is expected to be made within weeks, following these actions,' he said.

He revealed that Iarnrod Eireann would explore the possibility of establishing a 'heritage railway' on the route, to benefit tourism.

Fianna Fail Deputy Seán Connick, having been in contact with both Irish Rail and the Transport Minister Noel Dempsey, has said the service 'could be in danger of closing in the near future'.

Deputy Connick said that the future of the line was first put into doubt with the publication of the An Bord Snip Nua report of last year, which advocated the closure of a number of lightly used rail services, including the Rosslare-Waterford line.

'The Rosslare-Waterford railway line has the potential to be an important link between south Wexford and Waterford City,' said the Fianna Fáil TD.

'Unfortunately this line has never been developed properly and has never reached its potential to be a viable alternative source of transport for people working or studying in Waterford. The current service has only one train a day in either direction.

'The train from Waterford to Rosslare leaves the station in Waterford at 5:20 p.m. This would not give anyone studying in WIT or working in the city centre sufficient time to get the train to travel home,' said the New Ross-based TD.

'This means that Irish Rail's own timetable is the biggest impediment to the development of the Rosslare-Waterford railway line.'

Deputy Connick said he has been in correspondence with both the Transport Minister Noel Dempsey and officials from Irish Rail about the rail service, but it seems his pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, Wexford Borough Councillor Joe Ryan (Lab), who has been fighting to save the railway line, said he was 'very disenchanted' with Iarnrod Eireann management. 'The line has potential but Iarnrod Eireann isn't interested,' he said.

Cllr. Ryan said the cost of taxi fares in 2009, to return staff to Waterford was over €30,000.

'Iarnrod Eireann had the chance of running the train back to Waterford to avoid the transport cost. They also had the option of using a Wexford-based crew.

Deputy Howlin was due to raise the issue during an Adjournment Debate in Dail Eireann last night (Tuesday).

- Maria PEPPER and Conor CULLEN
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