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Author Topic: Closure of Rosslare – Gorey mooted:Public consultation on Rail Review in Ireland  (Read 2591 times)
WEX-RSB-FGH-BPW-PAD
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« on: December 26, 2016, 05:44:58 pm »

The National Transport Authority, along with Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) and the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross, has launched a process of consultation around the Rail Review 2016 Report, which inter alia proposes the closure of several lines as a possible measure to plug the funding gap that has arisen. 

The Rosslare-Gorey section of the Rosslare – Wicklow - Dublin line and the entire Waterford – Clonmel – Limerick Junction line (continuation of the Rosslare - Wellingtonbridge -Waterford line which was suspended in 2010) are mooted for possible closure as are two lines elsewhere in the country.

The consultation remains open till close of business on Wednesday 18th January 2017 and the report and consultation document can be accessed at:
https://www.nationaltransport.ie/consultations/consultation-on-rail-review-2016/

Some of my personal thoughts on this are that the report appears to make zero effort to suggest measures to grow business as an alternative to closure yet detailed rail replacement bus timetables are provided! For instance the Waterford – Clonmel – Limerick Junction line is not bookable online and is the only one on the island of Ireland devoid of a Sunday service. Yet large sums have been ploughed into the line in very recent years such that virtually all of the line is now continuous welded rail and the modern InterCity units are now the norm on the line. This route needs to be operated as a through Waterford - Galway service as current connections are very poor/slow:
http://www.irishrail.ie/media/12_waterfordclonmellimk_valid_from_20.11.2016.pdf

Past closures/suspensions have not yielded exciting savings and even if all four line/line sections mentioned in the report are closed the savings are still rather meagre as there will still be a cost for maintenance and replacement public service obligation (PSO) buses.

Separately extensive efforts are being made to grow railfreight so in the instance that Rosslare-Gorey is closed to passengers that should not mean that any future freight flow is also condemned.

In my view CIÉ's "heart" has never been in rail in the South East of Ireland.
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grahame
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« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2016, 09:09:24 pm »

Yikes - this is potentially highly significant ... Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Oh - my - god.  What a mess (as least that's how it comes across from the report ...).   I've started a rather longer comment I'll post in the morning.
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WEX-RSB-FGH-BPW-PAD
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« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2016, 12:05:05 am »

A few further pertinent facts:

Of the four lines/sections suggested for closure viz (in order of risk):
1.   Ballybrophy – Roscrea – Nenagh – Limerick
2.   Waterford – Clonmel – Tipperary – Limerick Junction
3.   Ennis – Gort – Athenry
4.   Gorey – Enniscorthy – Wexford – Rosslare Strand & Rosslare Europort
it is apparent that both lines 1 & 2 are at a higher risk of potential closer than 3 & 4. Of the Rosslare line the report states “Similarly the Gorey to Rosslare line closure would impact on a large number of passengers.” (p. 43)

Then there is the million euro question as to whether any meaningful effort has ever been made to automate the numerous staffed level crossings on the two County Tipperary lines (1 & 2 in list) or seek funding for same.

Next there’s the curious situation of PSO bus routes (i.e. subsidised with public monies) introduced during this year on which certain journeys are timed at more or less the same time as rail services…

Bus route 355: Waterford – Carrick-on-Suir – Clonmel – Cahir (reconfigured route 367 bus route but extended beyond Clonmel to Cahir). Operated by Bus Éireann.

Bus route 387: Rosslare Europort – Rosslare Strand – Killinick – Wexford (brand new route). Operated by Wexford Local Link.

Granted both routes serve a number of villages which are no longer on the rail network like Kilsheelan near Clonmel and Killinick (just off the N25 Rosslare-Wexford road) which had a station on the Rosslare-Waterford line till the 1970s.

The report is bizarre in many respects even referring to long closed lines no longer in the company’s ownership.

Closure makes little financial logic because both the revenue and subsidy is then lost. Furthermore redundancy also has to be paid out and headquarters/centralised costs are unchanged but are spread out over a smaller network.

An important and related aspect is that Irish Rail wish to abandon the Rosslare-Waterford line:
http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/iarnrod-eireann-seeks-to-permanently-axe-10-closed-lines-430881.html
The report refers to the fact there is no funding provided for maintaining structures like bridges on closed and abandoned lines and Rosslare - Waterford would broadly fall into the former category.

On the plus side things may not be as dire as they seem as an additional €31 million euro subvention for public transport was announced in October and some of this will go to Irish Rail.

And it should be noted that SailRail traffic to/from Rosslare even on a quiet day can contribute around 100 passengers onto GWR.  I’m reluctant to mention figures because they in fact fluctuate considerably  – last week coming through Fishguard at night I was one of only around ten heading east but approximately fifty were heading for Rosslare and beyond. Of course the salient point is that with easier booking facilities and better promotion this traffic could be noticeably increased for everyone’s benefit particularly during the summer.
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ellendune
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« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2016, 09:26:21 am »

But they I though they had only relatively recently re-opened Ennis to Athenry?
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TonyK
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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2016, 09:47:44 am »

It would be sad if it were to close. I have only been to Rosslare once (OK, twice including the return trip) which was on a whim. Mrs FT, N! had spotted a cheap offer in the Bristol Post which included GWR from Temple Meads and ferry to Rosslare. We made no other plans, deciding to play it by ear. There were two trains at platform, and we simply got on the first one to leave. We stayed in Wexford, where the Intercity train runs along the main road for a short distance, like a very big tram, and used the train again during our stay to get to Gorey, for the beach. Had the other train been the first to go, we would have stayed in Waterford. The train manager remembered us from our first ride three days previously.

I hope it survives, and I hope it is promoted better than at present. It could prove to be a false economy to close the line.
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grahame
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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2016, 09:59:33 am »

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.  What a mess the report describes.

I've visited Ireland quite a number of time as regular members will know, and commented (maybe on my blog rather than here) that it's a country that feels like England did a generation or two back - in the time of my youth.  And a generation or two back we had the Beeching Report and its consequences here in Great Britain.

Figures quoted in the report of a shortfall of up to 491 Euros per passenger journey on one line are frightening, as is a main line terminus with just 50 passenger journeys in a day. And I do recall making a journey to that terminus (and reporting on it here) where I was the only passenger left on the train by the time it got there.

But the Beeching Report, and the background work on individual lines, has been found by time to be overdone in terms of what it claimed for savings, biased and scanty in its reasearch, excessive in what it calied should be done, and pessimistic for the future, and significant in what it didn't say.  Whilst certain closures probably were sensible, many of them weren't and indeed quite a number didn't happen - alas not because of the cases being looked at, but because of the politics and local mobilisation (or lack of it) in areas served line by line.

There are differences to Beeching though.   For one, the trains and lines in the paralous operational financial mess aren't in bad shape - a lot of money has been spent on them in recent years, with lots of continuoisly welded rail and rather nice trains providing the services, even if operational costs remain higher than perhaps need be.   For another, Ireland's already had its major clearout of lines so perhaps I should be comparing to the Serpell report rather than to the Beeching report.

For reference, here are links to the Beeching and Serpell reports, and also to our own mirrors of the Irish report and consultation document in case it's no longer available on thri site after the consultation ends.

http://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/documents/BRB_Beech001a.pdf
http://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/documents/BRB_Beech001b.pdf
http://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/documents/DoT_Serpell001.pdf

http://www.savethetrain.org.uk/iereport.pdf
http://www.savethetrain.org.uk/ieconsult.pdf

Support graphics to give readers a quick intro / picture:



From the "Annual one-day census of passenger numbers" for 2015:


Operational cost report - figures quotes elsewhere including keeping the lines open are much much higher!

 
My analysis and thoughts to follow in next post ...
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grahame
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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2016, 12:52:54 pm »

Quote
My analysis and thoughts to follow in next post ...

Really four targets?

Have Gorey to Rosslare and Ennis to Athenley been included in the report consulation as decoys to draw the fire of those who object to those lines?   Are the real targets the closure from Limeric to Ballynrophy and perhaps from Limeric Junction to Waterford?    You'll note that I'm writing here mainly about the Rosslare line, and in doing so am I falling into the trap that the author of the consultation really only want to close two lines but I (and others) won't say much about those two being much smaller - so they'll go "as they don't have as much support" ... and with both sides able to claim a victory - "We save Rosslare" and "We managed to get rid of Roscrea"?

Wexford

Wexford (town) has a population of over 20,000 and is an intermediate station between Gorey and Eniscorthy has around 11,000 ... both are served by the line between Gorey and Rosslare, and neither of those two stations appears in the low usage list.  Yet they seem to have been left off many / most of the maps that accompany the report, even though it shows Wicklow with a population of just uner 15,000 (on the section to be retained). 

Short cutting

Whilst cutting the Rosslare service back to Gorey (population 9,000) from where it's currently viable northwards, will it still remain viable without throgh traffic from the South?  It's not pure population that counts - I think there is some commuter traffic to Dubin from as far south as Gorey, but not beyond so you end up, potentially, with a single-traffic-source line and not a more general line as you have at present, with a much more marked peak and an an increased imbalance for furure use of resources.   And I don't see people getting onto a coach as Rosslare Europort, Rosslare Strand, Wexford or Enniscorthy and then changing to a train at Gorey for the rest of the ride to Dublin - they'll want to stay on the coach if they travel this way at all.

1 day survey

We are warned in the UK that train overcrowding figures are taken for a single day and really can't be used to draw any conclusions.  Yet the passenge numbers for smaller stations in Ireland are also just one day, so do they tell us anything useful?    And I recall faut beng found in some of the Beechin Report's figures because figures were gathered over a highly selective week.  I have my doubts as to how much can be read into the passenger census data supplied.

Inappropriate service - e.g. two trains a day

I recall we had just 2 trains each way per day on the TransWilts until 2013 ... and that made marketing the line very difficult. And it was doubly so because the trains we had weren't right for daily commuter flows which can be the bread and butter of a line.    Our service was that much less useful because of dreadful connections at junctions.

I see similar situations on all the lines up for consulatation.   From Galway to Waterford - a natural through journey taking in two of the lines - you have a choice of 2 trains a day - at 06:20 or 13:45.   Both involve changing at Limeric and Limerick junction - on the first you arrive at Limeric an hour and 20 minutes before leaving the junction, and on the second that stretches to three hours and a minute.  In the reverse direction, the 07:20 off Waterford dumps you at Limeric Junction at 09:00 and you can enjoy both the junction and the city before continuing onwards at 14:20.  Local commutes into Waterford with first train in at 11:26 and last train out at 16:25 ...

Clonmel (population 18,000) and Tipperary (population 5,000) each have but 2 trains each way per day - and it's the same train - where a train every 2 hours would be possible using the same set - and perhaps meeting a whole number of other potential flows.  Between these two, they have pretty much the same population as Melksham where our increase from 2 trains each way by a factor of 4 has increased our passenger numbers by an estimated factor of 12.

The day boat from Fishguard arrives into Rosslare at 18:00 and if you're lucky and its on time, you'll be able to see the last train of the day - the 17:55 - pulling out for Dublin.  If you don't want to spend the night in Rosslare, you can catch the 02:30 boat from Fishguard which arrives at 06:30 and will connect into the 07:20 train - but that's hardly a pleasant tourist trip with two nasty nighttime interchanges.

Taking the boat out? The 09:40 train from Dublin - the first of the day - arrives at Rosslare at 12:26.  The 09:00 boat has long since gone. The 21:15 boat heads out just before the train arrives from Dublin at 21:28 ... the previous train reaches Wexford where it terminates at 20:12 (and you could probably make the conection by road) otherwise you're on the 16:37 from Dublin, 19:25 into Rosslare.

Fishguard

I would estimate that around 70 journeys per day are made on foot via the Rosslare / Fishguard ferry service, with perhaps 35 to 40 on the Irish side and 60 to 65 on the Welsh side transferring to and from the rail connections.   In Ireland, there are more bus / coach services at Europort to places like Waterford (train service withdrawn a few years back!) and indeed to Wexford and Dublin which make the rail journety number on that side lower (they rather force people to the buses if you look at issues with train connections!).

BUT ... remove the train service to Rosslare and you'll reduce foot passenger numbers on the boat and decimate the Fishguard service; remember that the 35 to 40 on the Irish side are hardened rail users already and most won't switch to the coach from Gorey.  So that's a prediction of a loss of 11,000 to 12,000 passngers per annum on the boat, and on journeys by rail to and from Fishguard Harbour Station if the Irish train goes.

Mothballing

The Rosslare to Waterford stretched moved from a fully useful train service to a parliamentary service to an engineering siding / mothballed line and now there's a suggestion it be abandoned.  With the longest rail bridge in Ireland on this section, being maintained in working condition but without income to fund that maintenance, you have something that doesn't look sane for the long term.  And because of that glaring absurdity, anything less absurd will have an easy passage to being the current way it's done, even if that's catastrophic for the long term.


CBT / TWSW / RailFuture for Ireland? / ACoRP / RDG / Rail Users Ireland

A question - who is there in Ireland who represents the rail industry and the passengers?   I'm coming to this post blind, not aware of any Transport User's Consultative Committees, Community Rail organisations, Railfutures or TravelWatches.   Are there passenger / rail user groups for the lines / towns concerned and any co-ordination of thoughts, responses and requests around these groups?   How well informed are uses, potential users and businesses that can or could be effected by closures as to what's going on?

Consultation on what?

There seems a disjoint between the quetions asked and the subejcts being reported on.   Perhaps that allows the "we have consulted" box to be ticked and "we got no objections to xxxxx" during consultation to be truely stated in some cases because opinions simply weren't sought and few people thought to write in the extras.  I'm afraid I'm a cynic, but being so because of the lessons of history.

Buses

Comment is made elsewhere that buses now run at similar time to trains on some of the routes.   Where both are being subsidised the question needs to be asked "is this intended to be permanent", but at the same time it could simply be an agreement between the public transport providers that they have both identified the time that people want to travel.   Frankly, that latter I doubt;  having a ready-runnning bus smooths the way to explain a train removal, and perhaps reduces political pressure to retain the train by convining those people who decide, but never use either, that there's a reasonable alternative and they should mute their objections.

Plan B?

Even the Serpell Report has plans A though D, with the least bad plan loosing just a couple of lines.

Where is the current marketing and information systems to grow some or all of these lines out of trouble?   To modernise the crossings and reduce future costs in that way?   I have plenty of thought how it could be done ...

In summary

I see so many similarities - places we and I have been and experience that may be the same (or not) across international boundaries.  With one exception in the four lines, I know enough about them to say that with more service, connections, promotions and information they could grow - with growth disproportionaly ahead of the extra increase in sevices.  They seem somewhere between neglected and tuned to fail at them moment, and once they're failed and lost it would be an almost impossible fight back.
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grahame
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« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2019, 07:17:29 am »

Picking up an old thread ... and noting that I used all four of the threatened services and was an interested observer of people off and on at nearly every station on that list.

On a more positive note, RTE News tells us of an open consultation on extending the Western Corridor northwards from Athenry to Tuam and Claremorris where it would connect with the next Dublin Radial main line.    Sounds very sensible ... but there's a crying need to drastically enhance services on the rest of the western corridor route too.  The section from Rosslare to Waterford is "mothballed" and I don't know if even an engineering train could get through at present. Two further sections are in the "threat list' earlier in this thread, with the Limerick Junction to Waterford stretch having just 2 trains a day, and low passenger numbers caused not so much by lack of population but by lack of trains for people to use for their regular round trips.

Quote
Iarnród Éireann has launched a public consultation on the possible extension of the Western Rail Corridor (WRC), north of Athenry, Co Galway.

The process is part of an ongoing effort to examine the economic benefits of running train services, firstly as far as Tuam and then on to Claremorris, Co Mayo.

The Programme for Partnership Government committed to "an independent costing and review" of the potential expansion of the rail line.

There are mixed views as to whether a train service would provide value for money.

Those in favour say it would take thousands of cars off the roads each day and provide much needed commuter transport for people living in north Galway and south Mayo.

But opponents claim the existing rail line should be repurposed as a Greenway to boost tourism and promote walking and cycling activity along the route.
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