Thursday, 5 May 2022
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
I thank the Minister of State for taking this matter. As my colleague identified, we are talking about investment in public transport and, specifically, in the Dublin-Rosslare route, which passes through County Wicklow. Whatever additional services can be provided to Rosslare will directly improve the facilities in Wicklow. The service to Wicklow town and Arklow at the moment is a joke. It is not worth even considering it as a mode of public transport to get into and out of work. Rosslare Europort has 34 sailings going into it weekly, whereas there are only 26 or 27 train departures from the town. The service does not even match up with the ferry services that are coming in, so realistically something has to be done.
My colleague mentioned tourism. Rail has significant potential for tourism all along the east cost by getting people into our counties. I refer to towns in County Wicklow such as Rathdrum, Arklow, Wicklow town and Greystones, where people can disembark and enjoy the countryside. County Wicklow is being strangled by a lack of investment in public infrastructure, one part of which is rail. We have to stop mickey-mousing around with what we are doing. We are talking about one additional train service between Greystones and Dublin, and perhaps with hybrid technology, that could reach Wicklow town. Either we are serious about public transport or we are not. On top of all this, there will be no further investment in the upgrade of the N11-M11 in County Wicklow for another year. The national planning framework clearly indicates Bray as a growth town for Wicklow of 33%. There is no connection between national policy and what the National Transport Authority, NTA, is saying in respect of both public transport and rail transport.
I acknowledge this issue does not relate to the Minister of State's brief but he might relay our concerns to the Minister for Transport. The rail service to County Wicklow is unacceptable, both from a commuter point of view and from that of the tourism Rosslare Europort could open up for the county.