Leo Varadkar: 'I'm romantic. I love the railways. I had a train set as a kid'
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has denied that he is trying to close rural train stations - saying he's a "romantic" and loves the railways.
Mr Varadkar - who earlier this week made it very clear that there was little scope for further fare increases or additional funding from Government for Irish rail - has said he has to be realistic in terms of funding allocation.
'I'm romantic. I love the railways. I had a train set as a kid," he told RTE's News At One.
"I'm romantic...but I have to be a realist."
"We want to maintain all the existing services...and increase the number of people using the railways. But it's difficult at the moment - we're not getting very much value from our railway."
Almost one-fifth of railway stations cater for fewer than 100 passengers a day.
And Irish Rail received more than half of the subvention paid by Government to the semi-state transport companies, but only carried 15pc of all passengers, the Minister said..
Dublin Bus, and even private bus companies, are "being disadvantaged" even though they prove more efficient and cheaper to run.
He said: "There is no justification for additional funding to railways."
"The bus can do the job of trains, faster and cheaper."
He also criticised the failure of Irish Rail to deliver savings thus far.
"It's just common sense - it's a no brainer," he said in relation to not increasing Irish Rail's funding allocations.