The allocation of funding to provide new rail carriages will do little to alleviate the overcrowding challenges faced by passengers in the short and medium term in Sallins, Hazelhatch and further along the Kildare line following reports that Irish Rail is expected to get approval from the National Transport Authority (NTA) for the purchase of €100 million worth of new rail carriages.
I welcome this long overdue investment in Irish rail services, which is now serving a record number of passengers each year. It is vital to invest in Ireland’s public transport, if we are to reduce the congestion and environmental pollution that is plaguing our country. While the funding for new carriages is to be welcomed, it is disappointing that the first contract, for 41 new carriages, is not due to be awarded until the end of the year.
We are at the end of the first/second working week of the year for many and my office has been inundated again with commuter’s left standing in cramped conditions on trains to and from their day job.
This end of year delivery will do little to reduce overcrowding on trains in the short to medium term as the lead-in time for the delivery of all carriages is extremely long. Irish Rail has also dropped plans to refurbish older carriages in the fleet, ruling it out on cost grounds.
Minister Ross needs to explain what he will now do in the short-term to support Irish commuters. Is he still considering hiring second-hand trains to cope with demand? Will he lease trains immediately to alleviate overcrowding and if not will alternative transport services, such as buses, be provided along busier routes? My invite to the Minister to travel from Kildare to Leinster House by train still stands.