Inter Agency/Departmental Coordinated Approach required if Ennis/Limerick Rail Service is to avoid further disruption - BREEN

February 4th, 2010 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen welcoming the restoration of rail commuter services on the Ennis to Limerick Rail Line, has called for an Inter-Agency/Departmental Coordinated approach to permanently alleviate the flooding in the Ballycar area which has led to prolonged closures of rail services on the line in the past two years. Deputy Breen said today that “this is the only way that this problem can be permanently resolved, otherwise, when we have further heavy downpours we could be facing further disruption.”

Deputy Breen raised this matter recently with the Minister of State at the Dept of Finance with special responsibility for the OPW.

“Following the extended closures on this line again this year, I wrote to Dr. Mansergh, outlining my fears that consumer confidence in this rail service could be eroded because of the ongoing disruption to this Service and urging Minister Mansergh to permanently address flooding on this section of the Rail Track.”

In 2008, flooding on this section of the rail line led to the disruption of these services for a 50 day period, the OPW were to undertake a feasibility study to look at the whole catchment area and to include hydro geological studies so that a future plan could be developed.

Dr Mansergh has assured me in writing that he is concerned about the disruption to services on the Ennis/Limerick Service. He advises that the OPW’s environmental consultants for the Ennis Flood Relief Scheme were requested to submit a costed proposal for a flood study of the area at Ballycar. Minister Mansergh said that “A proposal and quotation to undertake a flood alleviation study of the flooding at Ballycar was subsequently received from the Consultants and that the OPW have referred the consultant’s study proposals to Iarnrod Eireann for their consideration.”

“According to Dr. Mansergh, it is now up to Iarnrod Eireann to implement the recommendations of the Study. However, Iarnrod Eireann has indicated that they do not have the financial resources to undertake the work required. On the other hand, the Minister for Transport and Marine Noel Dempsey T.D. has held no discussions with either Iarnrod Eireann or the OPW to try and solve this matter claiming that it is “an operational one for Iarnrod Eireann.”

“That is the problem, there is no joined up thinking when it comes to infrastructural projects in this Country. According to Iarnrod Eireann’s Chief Executive, Richard Fearn, even, in the light of the current economic situation they will be maintaining their current level of services on this route and that indeed they will be enhancing their level of services on this route, with training having commenced on the Ennis/Athenry Service and a new stop to open in Sixmilebridge. The extension of these services and the opening up of the Western Rail Corridor is a welcome development for this Region, however, with no permanent solution put in place to address the flooding at Ballycar, there still remains the possibility that this line could be disrupted again, when we have heavy rain falls.”

“Our local public transport should be coordinated and planned and there should be inter-agency and inter-departmental approach. I am now calling on the OPW, Iarnrod Eireann, Clare County Council to sit down as a matter of urgency to investigate how the recommendations of this report are going to be implemented. The Dept of Transport and Marine cannot wash their hands either and they should also play their part.”

“Another winter cannot come and go and go before action is taken on this Report.!

Dáil Question
No: 530

*To ask the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the ongoing disruption to commuter services on the Ennis/Limerick rail service in County Clare; if this ongoing closure will have implications for the reopening of the western rail corridor; if his Department has held discussions with Iarnród Éireann and the Office of Public Works to urge a resolution of this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Pat Breen.

* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 19th January, 2010.

Ref No: 2049/10 Proof: 567

Answered by the Minister for Transport
(Noel Dempsey)

REPLY

I am aware of the disruption to rail services on the Ennis/Limerick rail line. As the matter is an operational one for Iarnród Éireann, I have not had discussions with Iarnród Éireann and/or the Office of Public Works.
While my Department is kept informed of the situation, the date of the re-opening of the Western Rail Corridor is a matter for Iarnród Éireann.

QUESTION NO: *235

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Dr. Martin Mansergh, TD
by Deputy Pat Breen
for WRITTEN ANSWER on Tuesday, 19th January, 2010.

* To ask the Minister for Finance the status of a report (details supplied); when he expects this report to be finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Pat Breen TD

REPLY.
Following flooding, in February 2008, of the railway line running between Limerick and Ennis at Ballycar, OPW Engineers met with Iarnród Éireann officials, at their request, to discuss the matter. OPW’s environmental consultants for the Ennis Flood Relief Scheme were subsequently requested to submit a costed proposal for a flood study of the area at Ballycar. A proposal and quotation to undertake a flood alleviation study of the flooding at Ballycar was subsequently received from the consultants. OPW has referred the consultants’ study proposals to Iarnród Éireann for their consideration. As the body responsible for the maintenance and safety of the railway line network, any works relating to the permanent way that may be recommended by the consultants in their study would be a matter for Iarnród Éireann to implement.