Dáil Éireann - Volume 542 - 17 October, 2001

Written Answers. - Rail Network.

88. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Public Enterprise if her attention has been drawn to the low average distance travelled by rail in Ireland; and if she will ensure that rail investment is at least on a par with road investment in the national development plan to ensure the rail network is expanded in terms of track length and capacity. [24537/01]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke): The national development plan was embarked upon by the Government to redress the lack of investment in infrastructure generally within the State down the years. In excess of £1 billion – 1.27 billion – is being invested in the railways and light rail to increase the overall [798] capacity of both the suburban and main line systems and to encourage a modal shift, particularly in urban areas, to public transport generally.

However, I am fully aware that significant infrastructural deficiencies still remain to be tackled to improve the service quality for users. I do not accept that a comparison between the usage of railway systems in Switzerland and Germany is directly relevant to Irish conditions. I am, however, encouraged by the fact that the number of passengers using the rail network continues to grow year on year.