IARNRÓD éireann's plans to embark on its first railway closures since the 1970s look set to cause a further rift between Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.
Green Party TD Ciaran Cuffe has indicated that his party will oppose the closures, which will sever direct railway links between the country's main southern population centres.
If the plans go ahead in full, rail passengers from Waterford would have to go via Dublin to reach Cork, Limerick and Wexford.
The company confirmed last week it was considering shutting the Waterford-Rosslare line but the Sunday Tribune has learned that the company has also held talks with the Department of Transport regarding the closure of the Waterford-Limerick line and the Nenagh commuter branch.
These lines will close if the company fails in its attempts to "explore lower-cost operations and maintain services".
The plan has the support of the department but the Greens are concerned by the plans with Cuffe telling the Sunday Tribune that the lines played an important role in the party vision of providing a comprehensive railway service.
"Any change to the rail network must be done on the basis of sound social, environmental and economic analysis. Routes that are currently under-used may benefit from improved timetables, rosters and marketing."
Iarnród éireann's plans are likely to meet opposition from rail campaigners, who accuse it of deliberately undermining the financial viability of lines that it wants to close.
This newspaper has learned that railway services on the Waterford-Rosslare line are now so poor that Iarnród éireann spent €30,000 on taxi fares in 2009 to ferry staff between the two locations.
A company spokesman said the suspension of services on the Waterford-Rosslare line would generate substantial cost savings.
"The line serves areas with very low populations," he said.
Fine Gael transport spokesman Fergus O'Dowd said the issue would be top of his party's agenda once the Dáil resumed after the St Patrick's Day break.
"I am concerned that the Green Party could be a party to the closure of transport services which reduce carbon emissions," he said.
He said he was shocked to learn of the talks between Iarnród Éireann and the Department of Transport.
"It's a joke. They seem to think they are unaccountable to the travelling public and the Dáil," said O'Dowd.