€15m revamp needed to get little-used section of railway up to speed
Trains are being forced to travel at just under 50kmh on a section of railway line earmarked for closure but in need of a €15m upgrade.
Irish Rail has sought funding of almost €2.45m this year to upgrade a section of the Limerick to Ballybrophy line, but no money will be made available until the Government decides if the line will remain open after a review of the rail network.
The State-owned transport company says investment has been "limited" to date because the line's future is uncertain. Some five trains a day are operated, and speeds are low "due to the degraded condition of the track".
The failure to complete the works could result in services being withdrawn. Works totalling €14.6m are required, but it is understood no funding will be sanctioned unless the Government agrees a funding package for the rail network later this month.
Meanwhile, experts have blamed poor planning policies and a lack of public transport for growing congestion levels.
A report says Galway commuters spend almost two days a year, or 44 hours, sitting in congestion as the city grinds to a halt during morning and evening rush hours.
Dublin drivers endure the slowest average driving speeds of any major city in the world, with cars moving at just over 7kmh due to heavy traffic.
The Inrix Global Traffic Scorecard, which analyses congestion across 1,360 cities in 38 countries, finds that overall, Ireland is the 23rd most congested country in the world.
"Dublin remains the slowest major city studied at 7.5kmh during all congested periods, with peak hour speeds at 6kmh," it says, adding that the average speed is 14.4kmh.
Globally, the most gridlocked city is Los Angeles, where commuters were forced to spend 102 hours in congestion last year.
In Ireland - after Galway, which is ranked 70th in the world - Dublin commuters are the most delayed by 31 hours a year, followed by Cork (25), Sligo (20) and Kilkenny (17). The 'average' time spent in gridlock nationally is 23 hours.
The Department of Transport says that congestion costs the economy €358m a year. By 2033, it is expected to rise to more than €2bn.
AA director of consumer affairs Conor Faughnan said poor planning and lack of public transport were to blame: "On public transport, we just don't invest in it.
"When we do invest, we expect it to be self-financing.
"The other mistake we continue to make is around land use and planning. We allow our cities to spread out instead of fill in. We don't allow high-rise," he said, adding motorists would move to public transport if available.
"No motorist who gets to Oranmore [in Galway] for 8am and doesn't get to Spiddal until 9.30am doesn't do it by choice.
"If you look at the systems which are good - Dart and the Luas Green line, in particular - they run through some of the most affluent areas in the country."