'This is totally unacceptable… it's madness' – Alan Kelly lashes out at calls to close railway line that carries 73 passengers a day
Labour’s Alan Kelly has described calls to close a railway line which services his Tipperary constituency as “madness” and “totally unacceptable”.
The Tipperary TD was responding to a report released this morning which revealed the railway line between Limerick and Ballybrophy is costing the taxpayer €550 per passenger.
In 2012, Irish Rail added four extra daily services - at a cost of almost €20,000 per day - to the route.
The line serviced just over 70 people a day and was generating only €753 a day.
However, Mr Kelly says public transport is not there to make profits.
“Most public transport services are not profitable, the reason they are there in the first place is to facilitate the greater good and members of the public,” he told the Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk.
“I’ll give you an example that’s not in my constituency, we have a situation in the west of Ireland where a group of local authorities have come together to fund Knock Airport, should Knock Airport be closed?
“Lets be honest about this, there is no point in misleading people, public transport is not profitable but it is vital infrastructure.”
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Responding to claims from Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy that Mr Kelly had abused his position as minister of state in establishing and maintaining the loss-making route, the Labour TD said Mr Troy “might want to reflect” on his remarks, describing them as "outrageous".
“This route came in in the mid 1800’s and has served the people of Tipperary since then, and has had a direct influence on investment in Tipperary.
“Minister Ross is looking at closing nine stations in Tipperary and then he is telling the people of Tipperary that this government and the IDA are interested in investment, it is madness.”
Meanwhile, the outspoken TD has also hit out at a “substantial allowance” received by Independent TD’s.
Mr Kelly says the 'Bertie Ahern' days of politicians deciding their own pay are wrong and that TD’s should accept whatever money is given to them.
“I sit in a constituency with three Independents and so does Deputy Jackie Cahill. They get a substantial independent allowance each year to do what they wish, so maybe that should be looked into,” he said on Tipp FM this morning.
“I take the salary that is given to me. I don’t believe politicians should be deciding their own pay, we should take whatever pay is given to us.”