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Monday 16 September 2019

Rural rail networks under threat without €460m rescue package

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Rail networks across the country face closure unless Irish Rail receives €460m, the Irish Independent has revealed.

InterCity services to Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Kerry, Waterford and Wexford face being axed unless a massive investment to compensate for years for underfunding is sanctioned.

It has emerged this morning that despite extra funding, lightly used services are likely to be shut because they are too expensive to operate and don’t carry sufficient passengers.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show Irish Rail’s accumulated losses stand at more than €150m.

A report to the Department of Transport from the National Transport Authority says €466m is needed between 2017 and 2021 to compensate for years of underfunding and to keep services operating.

It says if no additional money is secured, “the operational funding gap would have to be eliminated through large rail network closures”.

Only the DART, Dublin and Cork commuter services and InterCity services between Dublin and Cork, Belfast and Limerick would remain.

Services to all other cities and communities on the line, which includes large towns such as Athlone, Westport, Ballina, Longford, Roscommon and Carlow, would cease under the worst-case scenario outlined.

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