Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

It’s important to maintain what you have, if you can’t build any more

Posted in Infrastructure, Ireland, Politics by Chairman Pip on 11 July 2010

The news that Iarnród Éireann will cease services on the Waterford-Rosslare line from 21st July has led to further ramping of the campaign to keep the line open. But, the news that, owing to the financial crisis, planned rail projects that will cost hundreds of millions of euros will be suspended or even cancelled puts the closing of existing infrastructure even more to the fore. Is it right to mothball infrastructure that is extant and viable if new infraastructure can’t be afforded? The major aspect concerning Iarnród Éireann’s sphere of influence is the second and third phases of the Western Railway Corridor, intended to extend the now open line first to Claremorris, then to Sligo. The irony is that the intention here was to have a single route connecting the north-west to the south-east, which will no longer be the case once the Waterford-Rosslare line is closed. So it is that, in the medium term there will be further contraction of the railway network, both existing and planned, with only the Interconnector guaranteed. In addition, the majority of the Luas and Metro projects are under threat, which will damage the connectivity of the network within Dublin. Yes, there is an obvious need to save money in the current climate, and Ireland has suffered more than most. And you can understand looking at withdrawing what is as it stands a redundant operation like the Waterford-Rosslare. But if it was used properly then it could be an asset to the economy. The excuse that the withdrawl of sugar beet traffic on the line is to blame for it being uneconomic is facile and an easy option. Of course withdrawing that amount of traffic will have an impact, but companies, when presented with an asset that loses its traffic in one area, should find a way to maximise it in others. Or, as I have said often, should let someone else have the opportunity of trying.

Suspension of rail service – Irish Times, 07/07/10
“Key road and rail projects axed as money runs out”

Is it right that with potential cuts to planned infrastructure, existing infrastructure is cut aas well?


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