Rail strikes will cause 'great damage' to future development of Irish Rail - Transport Minister
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has warned that any further rail strikes will cause “great damage” to the future development of Irish Rail.
Mr Donohoe said that the threatened strike action by train drivers in the autumn would “jeopardise” millions of euro worth of investment in rail services paid for by the taxpayer.
Independent.ie revealed yesterday that trade unions have warned of looming strike action amid a dispute over pay and conditions for drivers.
Morale among workers at the semi-state company has also plummeted as a result of a series of safety concerns.
Sources have said that any such strike action could be targeted at early morning dart services in a move that would cause chaos for commuters and school children.
Speaking for the first time about the prospect of a dispute, Mr Donohoe urged unions and management to work within the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission (LRC).
He made the remarks after announcing a €14m investment in a tunnel at Heuston Station, which will provide greater transport links to commuter belts.
“As a result of all of this and as a result of the additional demand for public transport, we now estimate that at the end of this year, an additional one million passengers will have used Irish Rail services and I think it would do great damage to all concerned if that kind of progress was to be disrupted by additional industrial action,” the Fine Gael minister said.
“I therefore urge everybody who is involved in these negotiations at the moment, whether they be management or unions, to make full use of the LRC to ensure these discussions can be concluded in a way that does not disrupt the progress Irish Rail is now making,” he added.
In relation to the new tunnel - which will allow Kildare commuters to travel direct to Connolly and Grand Canal Dock stations – Mr Donohoe said the investment may persuade drivers to leave their cars at home.
But he admitted that passengers travelling from commuter belts will not be able to stop at the station due to a lack of connectivity between platform ten and other platforms.
“This is a service that will be moving through this station, and will be moving through Heuston and then beyond. The point of this work here is to provide additional services for people coming through Kildare, they’ll move through this station and then onto the city centre stations,” Mr Donohoe said.
“The benefit of this is to an additional one million people, who are travelling in car , coming from Kildare and beyond, will be able to avail of an Irish Rail service that will take them into the city centre,” he added.