Tuesday, 22 June 2021
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I know this is not the Minister of State's Department but his response is incredibly disappointing. He spoke about the Minister and the Minister of State, Deputy Hildegarde Naughton, wanting to bring a focus on connecting key ports to the rail network. Such a connection was in place in Ballina long before the Ministers came into Government. We have a service that works well and which has massive potential but it has been stalled for reasons that have nothing to do with the service itself but, rather, with Dublin Port and the constraints there. I accept that Brexit is a challenge and that there have been other challenges at the port in recent weeks but the Brexit referendum was held five years ago. There was time to put all of these things in place. Given the size of Dublin Port, surely space and priority should have been given to rail freight if it is a priority.
This is typical of the Department's view of rail transport. We are being subjected to another strategic rail review. A rail committee in the west today published a report by Dr. John Bradley, formerly of the ESRI, into the viability of the western rail corridor. This debunks entirely the taxpayer-funded EY report, paid for and commissioned by the Department. That a private, volunteer-led organisation could debunk a State report entirely says volumes about the lack of commitment in the Department of Transport with regard to rail freight and rail transport.