Iarnród Éireann had forgotten about rail freight to and from Waterford port and had no interest in it, Senator Maurice Cummins told the Upper House last week.

“The company let the business fade away because it was uncompetitive, even though it had the best infrastructure possible in Waterford Port. It is improving a little bit but Iarnród Éireann was so uncompetitive that the companies operating in the port got quotes from hauliers which were much cheaper. This probably suited Iarnród Éireann because it could get out of the rail freight business and let people go”, he said.

Senator Cummins said he would have thought that the first priority of a Green Party Minister would be to transfer the amount of road freight on to the railways.

“The Green Party should have been completely in favour of any subsidy necessary to do that. I thought they would be pushing this agenda at this stage although it is still not too late. There should be rail links to ports in places like Dublin and Limerick and it would not take a major amount of money to provide that infrastructure. The will has to be there from the Minister, the Department and Iarnród Éireann, but it does not seem to be there.”

Urging a change of emphasis, he pointed to accidents involving juggernauts going through cities and towns. “How much damage are these trucks doing to our roads? There is a more sensible way of doing things that is much healthier for the environment”, he insisted.

Dublin train problems

Meanwhile, Senator Paudie Coffey said there was much room for improvement in the promotion of usage by the public of our train services.

“I travel regularly by train from Waterford to Dublin and, normally, a train ride should be enjoyable, relaxing and an energy efficient mode of transport. However, I regularly see people standing on the Waterford-Dublin service from Kilkenny onwards. Not even hot teas or coffees are available”.

“In short, it is a sub-standard service and not an adequate incentivised public transport system. We must incentivise rail travel. We must improve customer experience so people are encouraged to use trains more. Passenger comfort and services are a main factor in this”, he declared.

Senator Coffey said travelling by train from Waterford to Dublin takes two and three-quarter hours from Plunkett Station in Waterford to Heuston Station, Dublin.

“With transfers from home and from Heuston Station to Leinster House it can take a total of up to four and a half hours”, he said.

“Recently I was waiting nearly 35 minutes for a public bus connection from Heuston Station to Kildare Street. It is advertised that the bus comes every 20 minutes and that is not a good enough public transport service.”

“If I choose to drive, it takes me three hours, or a maximum of three and a quarter hours, from my house to Leinster House,” he added.

“That includes idling in traffic so there is no incentive to use the train, although I try to use it as much as possible. How many thousands of people are like me”, he asked.