IARNRÓD Éireann has scrapped plans to introduce extra trains between Dublin and Kildare next year despite already spending over €420m on the project, the Sunday Tribune has learned.
The revelation comes as transport minister Noel Dempsey said that transport budgets were so tight that an eastern railway line would be shut to provide resources for the new Limerick-Galway railway.
The move to sacrifice the Waterford-Rosslare railway will leave a sizeable portion of Co Wexford without any public transport but Dempsey said that "it's not possible to provide a public transport system to every nook and corner of the country".
"If we want to provide a reasonable service to 150,000 people along the western corridor and we can't increase the subsidy we can give to Iarnród Éireann, you have to look at those ones which are less used," he said.
Meanwhile, an Iarnród Éireann spokesman confirmed the company has scrapped plans to run extra services after the completion of the €420m Kildare route project later this year.
The project had originally secured state funding on the basis that more trains would be run. It is understood that some of the extra trains bought for the project will now be diverted to the Limerick-Galway line.
The spokesman said the project was still a worthwhile investment. "We see this pause in expansion as relatively short-term and we will be equipped with the infrastructure and fleet to deliver growth in the future," he said.
But campaign group Rail Users Ireland said the move would also mean that many intercity trains would have to continue to stop at commuter stations and overcrowding at peak periods would continue.
A spokesman said that while it accepted that demand for services had fallen, flaws in Iarnród Éireann's strategy discouraged passengers from using train services.
Meanwhile, over 1,250 people have joined a Facebook group calling for the retention of the Waterford-Rosslare line, which loses €3m a year. "The company says that there are just 25 passengers on the train. Those 25 people are on the train despite Iarnród Éireann's best efforts. It is unfair for Iarnród Éireann to use their mismanagement as a justification for the closure," said Wexford councillor Joe Ryan, who is leading the retention campaign. Iarnród Éireann has denied deliberately undermining the route.
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