BUSINESS leaders across the south-east remain furious at Iarnród Éireann’s decision to suspend rail services between Waterford and Rosslare.
However, the South East Chambers of Commerce have not given up on the rail link and say they intend to explore ways to salvage the route that has serviced Waterford and south Wexford for a century.
The chambers’ access task group chairman Orm Kenny has expressed “severe regret” at last week’s decision by the National Transport Authority (NTA) to allow Iarnród Éireann suspend the rail line.
According to the rail company, the Waterford-Rosslare service was carrying an average of less than 50 passengers per journey, bringing in fare revenue of about €50,000 per year despite costing €1.9 million to run.
The NTA has told Iarnród Éireann to work with Bus Éireann in laying on an extra 80 bus trips, from stops previously served by rail, and will fund the new bus service to the tune of about €250,000 each year.
The rail company has also been told to maintain the railway to allow it to be resumed in future years – or to be used by a new community rail partnership.
However, the South East Chambers said that, while they were “heartened” by the NTA’s support for the partnership idea to manage the line, “we feel that their decision has left IE completely off the hook” as there is no incentive for them to explore the idea, which is based on a model already running in parts of Britain.
Iarnród Éireann has already signalled its intent to start working with Bus Éireann to establish the replacement bus schedule, with rail services expected to be suspended by the end of this month.
According to the NTA, the rail-link between Waterford and Rosslare was operating at just 20% capacity.
However, a survey carried out by the Save the Rail Group indicated that up to 70,000 people would use the train if three journeys were provided each way every day, rather than the current one journey each way.
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