Threat to Ballybrophy rail line
A train services that links south Laois to Limerick is set to come under Government scrutiny in the wake of a report which reveals it is costing taxpayers €550 per passanger.
The claim in relation to the Ballybrophy to Limerick line is made in a memo being brought to cabinet by Transport Minister Shane Ross on the back of a review carried out into Irish Rail finances.
While it is heavily subsidised just 73 people a day used the line generating €753 a day in fares to Irish Rail.
"The review identifies wide disparities in the funding requirement for various routes on the network. It identifies the subvention requirement per passenger journey on each route, based on the running costs for these routes (excluding captial investment).
"It shows for example, that the subvention for each passenger journey on the Dart is 90c and on the Limerick-Ballybrophy is €550," said the memo leaked to the Irish Independent.
The memo continues that no decisions will be taken on any of the options identified on the review in advance of full public consultation. However, the highlighting by the south county Dublin Minister of the cost of the line is an ominous sign for its future.
In 2012, Irish Rail added four daily services to the line at a cost of €20,000 per day when Tipperary Labour TD, Alan Kelly was the Transport Minister. While it starts in Laois, it serves a number of towns in Tipperary.
While the line is not busy, the station is. Irish Rail recently acknowledged to Laois County Councillors that there was not enough parking at the station to cope with the demand for train services that stop there.
In his reply Mr David Franks, Chief Executive of the company accepted that there are problems.
“I acknowledge that there is a congestion problem at Ballybrophy car park and that the overflow from the car park is accommodated on the road on the approach to the station,” he wrote.
He said car parking is a problem at stations in several areas of the country and Irish Rail has a programme to tackle this.
“I can confirm that Ballybrophy station is identified as a potential project in the programme. It should however be noted that there has been very limited capital investment funding for station car parking in recent years and therefore the funding has to be allocated on a priority basis.
“The capital investment programme for 2017 and beyond has not yet been determined and therefore we are not in a position to forecast when we can initiate the process of determining a solution, assessing the business case and designing and implementing any works,” said the letter sent councillors at the Borris-in-Ossory Mountmellick Municipal District Meeting in October.