Getting the right price will be key to success
Published 27/05/2015 | 02:30
Given that Iarnród Éireann is in the business of running a railway network, it seems curious that it also controls our second-busiest port.
Yet it does so efficiently and professionally, repeatedly turning a profit during the darkest days of the recession. That's testament to management and the 73 staff who oversee day-to-day operations.
But like a lot of our ageing infrastructure, Rosslare is in need of major investment. Given the precarious state of the railway company's finances, it is not in a position to borrow to fund the cost of providing deeper berths to accommodate the next generation of ships.
And so the private sector is being sounded out to see if it's interested in running a port which has an annual turnover of €10m, and posts profits of €2m.
It's certainly an attractive proposition. Not only is Rosslare connected to the national rail network, it is also within 90 minutes of a population of some 925,000 people living in Carlow, Kilkenny, Laois, Kildare, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow. With the economy on the turn, that means that demand for goods will increase. It also means that more tourists can be expected to land in Rosslare in the near future, further boosting traffic.
While investment is needed to solidify its position, that shouldn't come at a price and result in Iarnród Éireann losing out on future profits.
Two things must be secured for a deal to work. Protecting the terms and conditions of workers, and getting a concession payment which recognises the financial rewards which are likely to accrue over time.