'Rail safety at risk if funding not increased'
The safety of train passengers is at risk if more funding is not invested in the country's struggling rail service, Iarnród Éireann has warned.
Iarnród Éireann chief executive David Franks said the rail service is facing "unprecedented challenges" despite its improving financial position.
Speaking before the Oireachtas Transport Committee, Mr Franks said that the company has seen its public funding cut from €195m in 2007 to €98m last year.
"As history has shown us, sustained underinvestment will ultimately impact on both safety and reliability, and result in greater costs to renew our assets in the long run, rather than maintain them sustainably," he said.
"For customers, this would mean a return to speed restrictions and a worsening of service standards, when our ambition is to improve times and service quality," he added.
Mr Franks also said areas in need of critical funding to ensure safety include the implementation of an automatic system that prevents trains from passing stop signals or speeding.
These automatic systems are commonplace in other European countries, the Iarnród Éireann chief said.