Saturday, September 4, 2010

Rosslare – Waterford rail service suspended on Green Party watch

The decision by the National Transport Authority to approve Iarnród Éireann plans to suspend the Rosslare to Waterford Rail service is regrettable. The Regional Authorities in the South-East and the Mid-West, together with their ten constituent local authorities, made a formal submission to the National Transport Authority (NTA) strenuously opposing the proposal of Iarnród Éireann to cease passenger services on the Rosslare to Waterford railway line. The two Regional Authorities, the city councils of Waterford and Limerick and the eight county councils in the regions joined together in a show of solidarity to strongly oppose the closure of the Rosslare-Waterford section of the railway line that links the Rosslare Europort with Waterford, Limerick and onwards to the South-West and the West.

The decision of the N.T.A. to ignore the collective weight of the regional and local authorities is mind boggling. That this has happened on the Green Party’s watch is unforgivable. This is a party which prides itself on promoting public transport and sustainable living. The irony of the Green Party being partly responsible for the loss of this service will not be lost on the electorate. This is not to ignore Fianna Fáil’s culpability but do we really expect anything better from them? There is no end to this Government’s bad mix of disastrous and ridiculous policies. The Greens have become a laughing stock. The quicker we have an election and get rid of them the better.

However it is the legacy that this Government will leave be behind that is the real tragedy. Losing a rail service at a time with local authorities are promoting greater use of public transport through green routes is incredible. The business community in the Southeast also voiced their concerns. A socio-economic and business case for the maintenance and promotion of the line has been prepared and submitted by the Regional Authorities on foot of wide ranging submissions. The proposals were submitted to the NTA supporting the argument for rejection of Irish Rail’s application to close the line and for its continued operation. A key recommendation is the establishment of a Community Rail Partnership, a concept that involves the rail operator partnering with the local authorities and local communities to operate, promote and market the railway and its services. This is an excellent proposal of which I fully support. It is a practical and common sense strategy that needs to be supported.

Last Wednesday I attended a protest at Plunkett Station Waterford. It was attended by dozens of local and regional politicians and community activists. The show of solidarity and strength was impressive. Sadly our views were ignored by the Government. Politicians and activists from the Green Party supported the protest. Senator Dan Boyle attended offering his support. I challenged him as to what his party was going to do to save the line. He said the Greens would raise it at cabinet level. It appears their appeal fell on deaf ears and one wonders what influence they really have in Government. It seems there is no end to this Government’s incompetence.

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