Seanad Éireann - Volume 67 - 17 December, 1969
Transport Bill, 1969 ( Certified Money Bill ): Second Stage.
Question proposed: “That the Bill be read a Second Time”.
Minister for Transport and Power (Mr. B. Lenihan) Brian (Snr.) Lenihan
Minister for Transport and Power (Mr. B. Lenihan): The purpose of this Bill is to provide for further capital advances to CIE and for payment to the board of non-repayable grants in respect of the amount by which the board's subvention was inadequate during the five year period ended 31st March, 1969. I propose, with the permission of the Cathaoirleach, to take with the Bill the motion on the Order Paper in relation to the Transport Act, 1964 (Section 6) Order, 1969, the purpose of which is to increase the amount of the annual grant paid to CIE.
The Transport Act, 1964, provided for payment to CIE, from 1st April, 1964 of the annual grant of £2 million, with the aid of which the board were required to break even, taking one year with another. The Act provided that the amount of the subvention might be varied in the financial year commencing on 1st April, 1969, and in every fifth subsequent financial year, by order made by me with the concurrence of the Minister for Finance and subject to prior approval of each House of the Oireachtas. The Act also made provision for payment to the board by the Exchequer of capital advances not exceeding in the aggregate £6 million. It  was estimated that this sum would, in addition to the moneys available from the board's depreciation provisions and other internal resources, be sufficient to meet CIE's capital requirements for the five year period ended 31st March, 1969.
The 1964 Act was based on the Government decision, announced by my predecessor during the course of his Second Stage speech on the Transport Bill, 1964, to continue to preserve the railway system subject to such further concentration and reorganisation as might be found practicable and desirable. The Government recognised that CIE could never become a viable organisation so long as the board were required to provide a widespread rail system. It was, however, accepted that while a complete changeover to road transport could possibly yield a public transport system which would carry on without operating losses, the enormous capital required and the very heavy staff redundancy would be such as to outweigh the advantages. The Government also took into account the fact that the railway represents a vast national investment and offers advantages not alone for tourist and peak traffics, but particularly for certain bulk freight traffics.
The annual subvention of £2 million was intended to be a realistic assessment of the minimum subsidy with which CIE could get by on the basis of effective management and increased efficiency and productivity. The object was to set a difficult but not discouraging target and to provide an incentive to efficiency and economy. In the event, CIE's total losses during the five year period exceeded the board's total subvention of £10 million in that period by only £542,460. In the context of the board's scale of operations — their turnover in 1968-69 exceeded £31 million — and of the growing difficulties which beset public transport everywhere, this is a very slight divergence from the target set five years ago. During the five year period there has been a sharp growth in productivity in CIE and improvement in management throughout the enterprise.
Before dealing with the Bill itself  and with the order, I propose to review briefly the results of the various sectors of CIE during the past five years. Except for 1968-69, CIE's net losses have been steadily growing, having increased from £1.475 million in 1964-65 to £2.48 million in 1967-68, before dropping to £1.961 million in 1968-69. An increase in revenue, due to increased fares and rates and additional business, partly offset by an increase in expenditure, was responsible for the reduction of £519,000 in the board's net deficit for 1968-69 compared with the previous year.
The excess of £542,460 during the five year period can be attributed mainly to increases in labour and other costs. CIE are a labour intensive industry and labour costs account for about 65 per cent of the board's total operating expenditure. During the past five years, CIE's total operating costs increased by 44 per cent. During the same period the additional annual cost of wage and salary increases, reductions in working hours and other improvements in conditions of service for CIE employees represented an increase of approximately 54 per cent on the level of the board's labour costs in 1963. Some of the additional costs incurred during the five year period were offset by additional business secured by the board totalling more than £6½ million and by an increase of about 13 per cent in productivity; the balance had to be met as far as possible by increases in fares and rates.
Excluding financial charges which, by arrangement with CIE were allocated for the first time to the various working accounts in the board's accounts for 1968-69, losses on railway working rose from £1.229 million in 1964-65 to £2.143 million in 1968-69. Rising costs absorbed not only increases in fares and rates but also economies and increased productivity achieved by the board. During the five year period rail passenger traffic was well maintained. In an effort to increase this traffic, CIE have introduced a wide range of concessionary fares, faster trains and an intensive campaign to attract more  commuters to the suburban rail services. Rail freight tonnage increased by 34 per cent; the increase was due largely to the growth in bulk traffic, such as cement, oil and minerals, which more than trebled over the period.
Special container terminal installations have been provided at Cork, Limerick and Dublin for use in connection with new fast liner train services for container loads introduced this year between Dublin and Cork, Dublin and Limerick and Dublin and Waterford.
Since 1964, 126 miles of railway line have been closed by CIE, reducing the railway at 31st March, 1969 to 1,333 miles of first track. In addition 69 stations and halts were closed. New railway extensions or sidings have been provided at Silvermines and Foynes to handle new minerals traffic, at Arklow for fertilisers and at Oranmore for oil products. Another extension railway is at present being provided at Ballina-courty, County Waterford, to serve the new factory which is being established there for the processing of dolomite into magnesite. The average length of haul of rail freight traffic increased from 88.6 miles in 1964-65 to 101.3 miles in 1968-69, thus reflecting the value of the railway for long distance haulage, particularly of bulk traffics. It is also of interest that the average length of passenger journey by rail increased from 35.8 miles in 1964-65 to 37.1 miles in 1968-69.
There has been a significant improvement in the operating surpluses on the board's road passenger services taken as a whole, although the Dublin city services are now less remunerative than in former years, the operating surplus on these services having fallen from £389,000 in 1964-65 to £264,000 in 1967-68 before improving to £354,000 in 1968-69. This is due not only to the impact of increased costs but also to a steady decline in the number of passengers using the Dublin city services. An adverse factor is the ever increasing problem of traffic congestion, now estimated to cost CIE £250,000 per annum.
On the other hand, the operating surplus on the board's provincial road  passenger services, including tours and private hire, increased from £271,000 in 1964-65 to £941,000 in 1968-69. During the same period the total number of passengers carried on these services increased from 60.5 million to 78.4 million; a large part of this increase is attributable to the operation by CIE of the free schools transport scheme and to the increase in the board's coach tour operations. Revenue from coach tour business increased from £218,000 in 1963-64 to £730,000 in 1968-69 and CIE's target is to achieve a 20 per cent annual increase in this business.
Despite a decrease in the total tonnage carried by the board's road freight services in the five year period, the operating surplus on road freight working increased from £45,000 in 1964-65 to £227,000 in 1968-69, the impact of rising costs having been offset by increases in rates and by economies in operation. I understand from CIE that the increased profitability on road freight working can be largely attributed to a reorganisation carried out by the board in 1965 of their road freight organisation.
The CIE hotels and catering services continue to be profitable, the operating surplus having increased from £145,000 in 1964-65 to £234,000 in 1968-69. There has been an increase in the operating losses on canals and vessels — from £58,000 in 1964-65 to £100,000 in 1968-69. At the request of my predecessor, CIE chartered a second vessel, the Galway Bay, to help in coping with peak tourist traffic between Galway and the Aran Islands during the summer months of this year and I am glad to be able to tell you that this traffic increased from 14,795 passengers in 1968 to 18,511 in 1969.
Total capital expenditure by CIE during the five year period amounted to £17.785 million, of which £10.94 million was met from the board's depreciation provisions and other internal resources and £6 million by way of capital advances under section 4 (1) of the Transport Act, 1964. There was a balance of £844,664 which was met by temporary borrowing. The £6 million provision in the 1964 Act would have been adequate for the five year  period were it not for the necessity for CIE to provide additional buses for the free school transport scheme in the two years 1967-68 and 1968-69; in consequence, the £6 million provision was inadequate to the extent of £844,664. In addition to the board's normal capital programme, CIE, at the request of my predecessor, incurred capital expenditure amounting to £237,596 up to 31st March, 1969, on the provision of car ferry facilities at Rosslare Harbour.
Nothing has happened since 1964 which would suggest that any change is necessary in the Government decision taken at that time to preserve the railway system subject to such further concentration and reorganisation as might prove practicable and desirable. CIE are satisfied that, for the present at any rate, the railway has been pruned to the optimum size and that further concentration would not reduce losses. The problem of the viability of the railway is common to all European countries and has been faced more realistically here than in most other countries. There is no ready solution but it is quite clear that the railway can never be operated without State assistance. The problem is to contain losses to the minimum consistent with securing the most economic and efficient overall transport system within the national economy.
The railway plays an important role in the social and economic life of the country and will continue to do so. Railway operations will be aimed at providing high standards of passenger travel and, by exploiting its advantages for speed, safety and comfort, CIE will aim at expanding rail passenger traffic. More express passenger services will be introduced between major provincial centres and Dublin. CIE will continue their campaign to attract more commuters to the suburban rail services with a view to ensuring that these services will be utilised as effectively as possible and to provide the maximum contribution to the relief of traffic congestion in Dublin city. The board will continue to improve the layout and decor of stations and will provide car parks at stations where necessary and feasible.
On the rail freight side, the board  will equip themselves to take full advantage of the recent development of container traffic. Railheads will be developed to take advantage of the economies of unit loads and groupage facilities. In this connection, the board, in conjunction with some of their major customers, the fertiliser manufacturers, have tackled the problem arising from the need to equate all-the-year-round production to seasonal consumption. Large, mechanically equipped storage areas are being provided at railway stations adjacent to major areas of seasonal fertiliser demand. The fertilisers will be moved in bulk into these storage areas and will then be delivered to local consumers as required. To keep pace with the growth in container traffic, more liner trains will be provided; the board's ultimate plan is to provide a national network of liner trains.
The board propose to expand road freight traffic in specialised operational fields and standards of equipment and of service will be improved. CIE's principal aims with the road passenger services will be to improve standards of comfort and service. Every effort will be made by the board to improve the Dublin city bus services which are at present operating in very difficult conditions, which have affected not only the cost but also the quality of the services. Many new buses of the most modern type will replace buses which are at present over age. The board will continue to use modern devices such as closed circuit television and short-wave radio to try to keep the buses moving in difficult traffic conditions. More express and limited-stop bus services will be provided throughout the country. Special efforts will be made to expand coach tour operations, at the moment about 75 per cent of CIE's coach tour business comes from North America and with a view to increasing this business, the board have established sales offices in New York and Los Angeles and propose to open another office in Chicago.
The Bill provides for further Exchequer capital advances of £11 million to CIE, of which £1.08 million is already due to the board in respect of  the amount by which the £6 million provision in the 1964 Act was inadequate during the five year period ended 31st March, 1969. This sum comprises £844,664 in respect of the excess of capital expenditure — caused by the school bus programme — over funds available, plus £237,596 in respect of the provision of car ferry facilities at Rosslare Harbour. The balance of the £11 million (i.e. £9.92 million), together with the board's depreciation provisions, will be available to meet future capital expenditure by the board. CIE's capital expenditure will be related mainly to the replacement of road and rail vehicles, the provision of school buses, the modernisation and improvement of equipment and premises and the improvement of staff amenities.
The Bill also provides for payment to CIE of non-repayable grants not exceeding in the aggregate £642,460 in respect of the amount by which the board's subvention was inadequate during the five year period ended 31st March, 1969. This sum is made up of £542,460 in respect of the amount by which the board's total deficits during the period exceeded the total subvention paid by the Exchequer and £100,000 in respect of provision made by the board in 1964-65 and 1965-66 for redemption of its 2½ per cent and 3 per cent Transport Stocks, which was shown separately in the board's accounts but was not taken into account in arriving at the net deficits for those years.
The draft order provides for an annual grant of £2,650,000 for CIE commencing 1969-70 which, in accordance with the terms of Section 6 (2) of the Transport Act, 1964, may be varied, if necessary, in the financial year commencing 1st April, 1974. This represents an increase of £650,000 in the board's existing annual grant. The new grant has been determined in the light of estimates of the board's revenue deficits for the five year period 1969-70 to 1973-74.
I should mention that these estimates exclude the profits of Ostlanna Iompair Éireann, the CIE hotels subsidiary, as these profits are retained by the company to help to  finance their capital expenditure. The cost of the free transport scheme for school children is settled directly between CIE and the Department of Education and is defrayed from that Department's Vote. Similarly, the cost of free travel for old age pensioners is borne by the Department of Social Welfare and for Old IRA men by the Department of Defence.
I am satisfied that the formula adopted in the 1964 Act has worked well and has provided the board with a useful incentive to efficiency and economy. As in 1964, the annual grant has been fixed at a level which should provide the board, management and staff of CIE with a difficult but realistic target, the achievement of which will call for continued effort and initiative. I have every confidence that these will be achieved.
I commend the Bill and the draft order to the House.
Mr. Russell Mr. Russell
Mr. Russell: Firstly, I should like to welcome the Minister back and I am glad to see that he is looking fit and well. Judging from the Dáil Reports, he had a very able deputy in the person of the Minister for Health who dealt very exhaustively with the many points raised in the Dáil debate. It would be unnecessary for me to cover all the ground again, but when one is presented with a bill of the size mentioned in the draft order it is only right that the Seanad as well as the Dáil should cast a careful eye over the reasons for the Bill and that we should look back over the past five years during which CIE have operated with a subvention of £2 million per year.
At the outset, I should like to say that Fine Gael will support the Bill, but having regard to the taxpayers' interest we consider it necessary that every item of public expenditure under the subvention heading outlined by the Minister should be scrutinised very carefully and that, where possible, constructive suggestions should be made to ease the burden on the taxpayers during the next five years.
The Bill is notable for several reasons because it confirms a change  in the attitude of the Government towards CIE which was contained in the Transport Act, 1964. I was a Member of the Dáil from 1957 to 1961 and I recall that, when the 1958 Act was passed, CIE were given a subvention of £1 million a year for four years and they were warned at that time that they would have to break even. There was then no question of CIE providing a social service as well as a commercial service but we note that during the past five years the emphasis has been laid, and quite rightly so, on the fact that CIE provide many useful and essential social services, particularly to school children, old age pensioners and veterans of the War of Independence.
If I may, I shall deal as briefly as possible with the past five years. The Minister has covered the position fairly adequately but there are a few points that I should like to make. As the Minister has told us, the total subvention paid to CIE during the past five years was a little more than £10.5 million and this resulted in an excess of £543,000 above the total subvention of £10 million for those five years.
In addition, if one includes the outlay on the ferry jetty at Rosslare, more than £18 million was expended by CIE in capital expenditure. As the Minister has said the £18 million was subscribed by way of £10.9 million from CIE's depreciation and other sources — perhaps when the Minister is replying to the debate he will give us some indication of what the other sources are, because they appear to be fairly substantial having regard to the extent of the depreciation during the period — the State gave £6 million and the excess of £8.45 million was met by temporary borrowing, making a total of just more than £18 million between receipts and over-expenditure.
It is interesting to consider some of the significant figures of CIE's operations during that five-year period. Total revenue for the five years amounted to £131 million, of which 1969 accounted for £31 million. The total deficit is just more than £10.5 million. The wages and salaries of employees are approximately £20 million and this has  not varied very much during the period but a most important point and one of which each one of us would take very serious cognisance is the fact that salaries and wages amounted to £20 million during the five-year period or more than 60 per cent of the total expenditure of CIE.
It is unnecessary for me to labour the point that expenditure of that £20 million in every area of the country has had a significant impact in indirect employment and in making available to shopkeepers, traders and other persons indirectly vast sums of money which they would not otherwise have enjoyed. Materials purchased by CIE during the five-year period amounted to almost £5½ million and CIE paid in rates and road tax a total of £2.3 million. In the working account, the railways, as has been the case now for many years, provided of course the heaviest deficit at £3.174 million. The vessels, that is the service between Galway and the Aran Islands, lost more than £33,000 and the canals had a deficit of almost £73,000, a total deficit on working account of £3,280 million. As against that, profits were earned in the road passenger service as follows: Dublin, £177,500; provincial bus services, £637,300 and that would suggest that at long last there is an end to the old story that the Dublin passenger services were subsidising the rest of the State. If anything, now it appears that provincial bus services are providing that subvention.
Tourist and private hire earned £196,000, road freight almost £123,000 and hotels et cetera earned almost £186,000, bringing the total profit in these various sections up to £1.319 million leaving an overall deficit of almost £2 million. I should have emphasised that those are the 1969 results. The subvention in fact, therefore, was very close to the estimate made in 1964 and, as the Minister has pointed out, were it not for certain unanticipated expenditure CIE would have operated inside their subvention of £2 million.
CIE now provide essential social services. Reference has been made to the schools free transport scheme  which is more likely to increase than decrease during the years. There is free transport for old and blind pensioners and veterans of the War of Independence and the subsidisation of school children's fares.
The number of passengers carried during the five years, at 1.548 million, will also give some indication of the vast size of the CIE transport undertaking. Rail freight ton miles which showed a very substantial increase of over 53 per cent and up to 111 million ton miles were a most encouraging feature of the accounts.
The Dublin bus passengers went up by a very modest 3.7 per cent to 8.2 million while the number of provincial bus passengers went up by more than 50 per cent to 26.5 million. As the Minister outlined in his speech, the provincial bus services are expanding whereas the Dublin bus services seem to be contracting. Whether that pattern will alter in the five years ahead I cannot say.
Another very welcome feature of the CIE policy with which we would all agree has been the modernisation of the railway stations throughout the country. I should like to pay tribute to those responsible for the design and implementation of the various schemes. The Minister mentioned that some new railway lines were opened, a spur line to the Silvermines mining operations and, also in conjunction with the same operation, the reopening of the railway to Foynes and certain installations there. I hope the Minister when he is replying will be able to indicate if the shipping facilities at Foynes which were provided by CIE jointly with the mining company, Mogul of Ireland, and which featured recently on a television programme, will continue to be operated in the event of the new ore smelter being located at Little Island in Cork. It was suggested in the programme that when the ore smelter was completed no further use would be found for the export handling facilities at Foynes, County Limerick. It would be a great loss not only to Foynes but also to the port of Galway if shipping to those two ports were to cease on the completion of the erection of the ore smelter. Of course a different picture  would emerge if the ore smelter were located in the Shannon estuary.
The Minister mentioned that special container terminals had been installed at Dublin, Cork and Limerick in January, 1969, to attract to the rail much of the long haul road freight traffic. The pattern of container traffic now seems to be emerging as a link between the rail or roads and the east coast ports to the loss of the western ports especially Limerick, Sligo and Galway. I should like to have an assurance from the Minister that the traffic lost to the port of Limerick, in which I am vitally interested, has not been lost as a result of a subsidised rail service from Limerick and other centres to Dublin or Rosslare.
What I am saying is that although we accept that CIE, like any other rail service in other countries, cannot operate without a very substantial subsidy from the taxpayers, that subsidy should not be used to deprive other forms of transport, such as sea or river transport, of their goods. That is a factor I should like the Minister to look into very carefully. None of us can get away from the rapidly changing face of all forms of surface transport, sea, rail and road, but we must ensure that through no action of ours will heavy subsidies be used to injure trade at the western ports. Some years ago this position was accepted by the Government and a 15 per cent differential or subsidy was payable to western ports but that has disappeared for some years now, leaving the western ports completely at the mercy of modern economic transport complexes.
CIE are to be complimented on their efforts to develop bus tours to the United States and to Britain. They have issued a little booklet which I am sure every Senator has got which is an indication of the improved marketing techniques which have been employed by CIE during the past five years and the very encouraging response which their campaign has realised. CIE have made most encouraging progress under various headings which I shall not read out and it is obvious that the people at the top and further down the ranks are thinking in a very progressive manner. Productivity  and efficiency schemes have obviously paid off. Judging by the international table which appears in this booklet, CIE compare more than favourably in the proportion of the GNP which is taken up in subsidising their operations.
This little booklet indicates that the staff numbers have decreased between 1964 and 1969 from 20,148 to 19,836. CIE in their own accounts give a somewhat different picture and in fact it would appear that during the five years the number of employees has remained fairly static at around 20,000. One of the most welcome features of the report has been the success of the hotels programme and the increase in the gross receipts from 1964 to 1965 of some £898,000, that is just under £1 million, to £1.4 million which is an indication that the CIE hotels are popular. We would all wish them greater success in the coming five years.
The Minister mentioned in his statement that the basic purpose of the Transport Bill, 1969, is to give CIE an annual subvention at the increased rate of £2,650,000 per year during the next five years, or an increase of £650,000 on the annual subvention of the past five years. At first sight the increase looks a very substantial one but as the Minister for Health, deputising for the Minister for Transport and Power, stated in the Dáil, having regard to the depreciation in the value of money during the next five-year period, the sum is not excessive. It is, of course, a very large sum by our modest standards in a small country, but having regard to the size of the operation I do not think anybody could cavil at the taxpayers being asked to provide that amount. Quite frankly, I question whether £2,650,000 annually during the next five years will be adequate to provide CIE with the necessary finance to keep their operations going, but perhaps the Minister may have more encouraging news to give when he is replying to this debate.
The Minister has explained already the non-repayable grant by the excess of the £10 million during the five years plus the £100,000 for the cost of redeeming certain transport stock in 1964 to 1966. A point I should like to dwell  on for a little is the subsidy payable to CIE for capital purposes. As I read it, that has been increased from £6 million paid in 1964 to 1969 to £11 million or a total of £17 million maximum for capital purposes during the coming five years. More than £1 million of that sum, as the Minister pointed out, will be required to repay to the board the sum by which they exceeded the sum of £6 million provided in the 1964 Transport Act. This means the board will have approximately £10 million, plus their depreciation provisions, and from other sources say another £10 million. This sum may be substantially more, but assuming they can provide the same sum as the previous five years from their depreciation provisions and other resources, CIE will have a total sum of £20 million capital expenditure during the next five years. The Minister might have given the House more detailed information as to how CIE propose to spend that sum of £20 million, or whatever is the correct sum. I have made only an assumption based on the same depreciation as for the previous five years, and other resources.
The Minister has given certain headings with which we would all agree, but when we are talking of a sum of £20 million the House is entitled to a little more detailed information than the Minister gave. In the course of his statement he said that the railways had been pruned to optimum size — I wonder is the word optimum correct — that further compensation would not reduce losses. This again would appear to be a departure from the policy of ten years ago when we were told the only way to reduce CIE losses and to put the company on at least a break-even position would be the chopping of the branch railways, right, left and centre. In this regard, I can recall the late Deputy Bill Murphy of West Clare and myself protesting vehemently but alas, unsuccessfully, against the closure of the West Clare railway. I cannot help feeling that if the West Clare railway were in action today it would prove a tremendous tourist draw. I think now, as I thought then, it was a disastrous decision to close that down  for the sake of saving a comparatively small sum of money. I do not recall the actual sum now but I think it was somewhere between £25,000 and £30,000.
Mr. Honan Mr. Honan
Mr. Honan: £40,000.
Mr. Russell Mr. Russell
Mr. Russell: Perhaps Senator Honan is nearer the mark. Anyway, considering the fact that we are now giving CIE £2.6 million to carry on, I think retention of the West Clare railway would have been a correct decision and its tourist potential would have justified that decision.
Mr. Honan Mr. Honan
Mr. Honan: If the Limerick merchants had sent their stuff by the West Clare railway into Clare instead of sending it by road the railway would have survived.
Mr. Russell Mr. Russell
Mr. Russell: What about the Clare merchants? As a commercial proposition I accept completely the Minister's point at the time that it was obviously a non-paying proposition, but I suggest that from a tourist viewpoint the West Clare railway — which I knew very well, and I think Senator Honan will probably agree, during 50 years and even longer — would be a wonderful attraction today.
The Minister touched on the question of non-commercial services. This is a new jargon: I suppose it is some of the terminology which is now creeping into all statements. I assume that means social services. He said, quite rightly, it should be clearly demonstrated to the public how those expenses are incurred and that they are charged to the proper Government Department. I quite agree with that. I do not think the public appreciate fully enough the type of social services or the number of social services CIE provide. They possibly could do a better public relations job in regard to that aspect of their operations.
We know that by this amount of subsidy we are supporting today, and I presume all sides of the House will support it, CIE assist other industries and businesses to pay their way and to prosper. There is no question about that. The mere spending, as I said  earlier, of £20 million in almost every area in the country must have an important impact on the trading and other activities in those centres. There is also a question which was not mentioned by the Minister — maybe it is good economics — but the taxation collected directly and indirectly from the spending of salaries and wages of some £20 million must be giving back to the Government a very large slice of what they give out.
We would all agree that in recent years CIE have taken on a new image. Younger men have been placed in top management positions, and reorganisation has resulted in the appointment of very keen and competent young men in the position of area managers. I have had some contact, as I am sure we all have had in our own areas, with those young men, and I should like to pay tribute to them. They are first-class businessmen, keen, efficient, and certainly imbued with a great desire to give the best possible service to the commercial community and to the public at large.
I should like to avail of this opportunity to pay them tribute and I should like to say, with considerable experience of railway travel during a long number of years, that right down from the top to the bottom there appears to me to be a better and more progressive spirit among all ranks of CIE employees. There seems to be a more efficient and co-ordinated system of running the various departments, and the public now realise that instead of being a sort of giant weight on the public economy, CIE are a vibrant, living and progressive organisation.
We would all agree that the board must always be alert to take advantage of changes in economic activity in the country and of opportunities that arise from the exploitation of natural resources such as mining and agriculture. The Minister mentioned in his statement the tremendous increase in traffic from mining and exporting of ores. The same would apply, and will apply, I think, if and when — and it is when rather than if — we join the Common Market countries. One of the things we are looking forward to with the greatest expectation is a very substantial increase  in agricultural development and agricultural exports of all kinds. In that, CIE have a very important part to play in moving agricultural produce from this country to the furthest corners of Europe.
At all times, the Board of CIE would want it to be their first care that their tremendous resources in men and materials and in State subsidy are not used to compete unfairly with smaller private enterprise concerns. During the past few years, as I have already stated, developments in all forms of surface transport, rail, road and sea, have posed many problems, particularly to the small countries like ourselves with widely dispersed populations. These can only be tackled in a co-ordinated manner under the aegis of a national transport authority. Such an authority would ensure that the best and most efficient use is made of our various transport systems, road, rail and sea, so that wasteful duplication or competition is avoided. By this means the taxpayers' contribution would be utilised to the best effect and kept at the lowest possible figure. In other words I favour the setting-up of a national transport authority that would be charged with the duty of co-ordinating all forms of transport, public and private, to ensure the elimination of duplication and overlapping and to ensure also that our national objectives would be utilised through an effective and co-ordinated transport system.
All of us at one time or another have shed tears on the decline of the west. At every election, speeches are made on the old theme of saving the west, but I sometimes think that the saving of the west and the smaller country towns and villages in rural Ireland could be better achieved if large public services such as CIE were directed towards ensuring that the transport systems from these centres would be viable and cheap, to enable factories and industries located in the west of Ireland to get their goods to the market in the United Kingdom or on the Continent at the cheapest possible cost.
That is probably the best contribution our public transport system could be giving, and the necessary assistance should be forthcoming from the  Exchequer to enable them to do that. We would all agree, whatever our political differences, that it is no good locating factories or industries in the west or in isolated places unless they have one essential service, and that is a cheap transport service to bring the finished products to the ultimate market. Our entry into the EEC is bound to bring further problems to many industries in this country, and almost certainly to CIE. Without being over-optimistic it is very likely that during the five-year period for which we now are providing finances to CIE this country may very well find itself a member of the Common Market. If and when it is, it may be necessary for the Minister for Transport and Power, whoever he may be, to come back to this House with another Transport Bill in the light of these major developments.
I should like to pay a tribute not only as a public representative but also as a trader to the courtesy of the staffs in all grades of CIE, and in particular I should like to pay tribute to the drivers of school buses and the drivers who bring children on various outings throughout the year. These are now one-man buses, as we all know, and I should like to pay tribute to the humane, kindly and careful way these men look after their charges.
Finally we can admire the wonderful record which CIE drivers have had during the years. Any of us who attended the presentation of the annual awards to drivers of commercial vehicles will have remarked on the very big proportion of CIE drivers getting five-year, ten-year or 25-year awards with the gold medal, as the case may be. This does seem to confirm the opinion of the public with regard to the skill, care and courtesy of the drivers, and most of us would substantiate that statement.
Before I finish I should like to refer to a statement made by the General Manager of CIE, Mr. Frank Lemass, which appeared in yesterday's newspapers, in which he referred to developments which CIE are to undertake during the coming year. He talked of the 13-day tour of Britain and Ireland  and referred to the Golden Holiday Tours based on Tramore, Ballybunion and Skerries, in addition to existing centres, Bray, Dún Laoghaire, Salthill, Killarney, Portmarnock and Warren-point. What has happened to Kilkee and Lahinch, not to mention the city of Limerick? Is there any good reason why these important tourist areas should not have been included in the Golden Holidays? I conclude by assuring Fine Gael support for this Bill, and I wish every future success to CIE in their operations.
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington Dr. Sheehy Skeffington
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: In general, the Government are to be congratulated on coming, in 1964, to the view that there is a social content in the railways which is valuable in itself apart from the commercial profit. We all realise the need for such subventions as are proposed in this Bill. We also appreciate their merit.
Senator Russell mentioned a point which should be stressed in relation to the West Clare Railway. The desirability of regarding some of these subventions as being, in part, tourist subventions is obvious. It is quite obvious that railways like the West Clare Railway, or the railway between Woodenbridge and Shillelagh, or the railway serving Bantry in West Cork, merit consideration as concerns which might not necessarily bring in a commercial profit but which would have been worth keeping for their social content and for the tourist attractions they provided. I had the same opinion about the old Howth tram which was a very picturesque feature in relation to tourist amenities around Dublin. Years ago in Douglas, Isle of Man, there was a horse tram running along the sea front for a couple of miles. I believe it is still running as a tourist attraction there. CIE, in trying to cut down, have perhaps cut down too much.
I should like to refer to the whole question of the Harcourt Street line. CIE committed a major blunder there. They were very eager to destroy the bridges and stations and to pull up the tracks in order to make it impossible to reverse the decision about the line. If we had that line now it could be developed and used. It passed through  places like Carrickmines and Shankill, Foxrock, Milltown and Dundrum. It was a major error to close down this line. The Minister has spoken of the efforts to increase traffic and to have faster trains. He has spoken of the intensive campaign to attract more commuters to the suburban railway services. They could be attracted if the tracks existed. It was a bad error on the part of CIE to pull up the tracks and to destroy the bridges.
The Minister mentioned that the board made an effort to improve the Dublin city services which have been notable for making a profit pretty consistently. Many buses of the most modern type will replace the original buses. I regret that green is no longer the colour of the buses. There was a slogan in 1922-23, promoted by Fianna Fáil and whitewashed on walls which read: “Green pillarboxes for green Irishmen”. The implication was that green paint was not enough and we should go forward to the Republic and not be content with the Free State. Green is almost banned now as a colour for buses. The buses are blue or red or some other colour. Could the Minister tell us why the handsome green buses which were admired by tourists have been changed to more workaday colours? The new colours are less inspiring.
The Minister also mentioned that in this Bill he excludes the profits of Ostlanna Éireann. In Glengarriff, which is one of the most beautiful places in this country, CIE committed an enormous blunder in relation to hotels. Roche's Hotel was built on the best site in the whole area. CIE purchased it and pulled it down. Having pulled it down they found they were not able to rebuild it. They sold the whole site, including the garden, to one of their biggest rival hotels in the area, thereby ensuring that no hotel would be built on this wonderful site. Perhaps the Minister might comment on this even though he admits that profits from Ostlanna Éireann are excluded from this Bill.
CIE have a garage in the middle of Glengarriff village. This is a most attractive village but we now find this monstrosity and eyesore of a garage  of corrugated iron, some of which is painted and much unpainted. The painted portion is rusty. I wrote to the Minister's predecessor on this question last year and suggested it was bad example for CIE to have such a monstrosity in the middle of the village. It has been said it is private property. I suggested to the Minister's predecessor that it should be removed. The Minister's reply was that it did not belong to CIE but to someone else who had rented it to them. I believe CIE could exert pressure on the owner to see that the garage is painted. When there is a question of destroying part of our heritage of beauty in one of Ireland's most famous beauty spots we should be concerned to see that those from whom we rent such garages make them conform to certain aesthetic standards.
The money being sought in this Bill is fully justified. As I have indicated, there are certain matters in relation to CIE towards which increased thought should be given.
Mr. Keery Mr. Keery
Mr. Keery: I should like to welcome the Minister back and to convey my good wishes to him. I welcome the Bill providing for further capital advances to CIE. I was looking at the Third Programme for Economic and Social Development and on page 124 there is comment on the board's capital expenditure. That refers to 1969 and would include replacements and minor additions and normal obsolescence. The Third Programme made this comment:
These are expenditures which a commercial undertaking would aim to meet from revenue or depreciation reserves. Consideration is being given to the desirability of bringing these within the subsidy provision so as to extend the incentive to economy and efficiency and to settle on a broader basis and for a longer period the full costs of maintaining the undertaking. Capital expenditure, financed by Exchequer advances, could then be confined to specific new projects which could be shown to be either remunerative or essential.
I should like to know what progress  has been made. The Minister has told us in his opening statement that the funds will be spent mainly on replacement of road and rail vehicles and on school buses. The school bus service is a new service which is enormously welcome throughout the country. The Minister stated the money would be spent on the modernisation and improvement of equipment and premises and on the improvement of staff amenities. I welcome this decision to spend money on the improvement of staff amenities. I believe good staff amenities help the morale of employees in a firm and thus improve industrial relations. The Minister for Finance realised this when he made certain tax reliefs available in his Budget for the provision of facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts and sport facilities for employees. The reliefs were similar to those available for extension of industrial buildings.
I hope that the money we are voting, particularly that devoted to staff amenities, will be further increased by the merits of this Budget provision. Many of the developments which the Minister has outlined are connected with improvements in the speed and service provided by our road and rail transport. I should like to underline the necessity, particularly when there is increasing speed on railways, to pay due regard to safety factors because there is no doubt that a crash at high speed on an express line can be extremely serious. One point on which I am particularly interested is the provision of radio-telephone communications in the cab of every main line train so that in the event of any breakdawn or mishap the driver can communicate and get help. Otherwise you increase the danger for railway passengers on trains in times of trouble and I suggest that this type of sensible safety device should take precedence over the kind of developments referred to in the CIE Annual Report where it was stated a start was made with the provision of a public address system with facilities for background music. I should be much more interested to know that provision was being made for my safety by the instalation of radio-telephone communications in the  driver's cab than in the provision of pop music.
I welcome the improvements in suburban traffic and I suggest that when some of these funds are being spent on the replacement of rail rolling, particular attention be given to suburban rolling stock. I am a regular suburban train traveller and I find it extremely odd that every morning I travel on rolling stock which looks more suitable for a journey from Dublin to Cork. I do not think it is economic to utilise it for short suburban journeys where we should have special rolling stock which would be easier to clear and maintain than the transport now used.
I should like to make one other plea in connection with suburban rail traffic. In the development of the railways, the non-smoker seems to have been forgotten; it is very difficult to find non-smoking accommodation on our trains and this at a time when the Minister for Health is endeavouring to carry out a campaign to reduce smoking and when many people prefer to use bus transport when they can travel in a non-smoking area. Surely the train traveller is entitled to the provision of a non-smoking area on suburban rail lines.
In his statement, the Minister referred to the extensions which have been made in the use of concessionary fares on our rail lines. There has been an enormous advance here and weekly and monthly suburban fares are tremendous value. I found recently that the price of a ticket which I purchased at a railway station had decreased and in these days of rising prices this is indeed a spectacular achievement. I should like, however, that it would be possible to use the return section of the rail ticket on buses at any time of the day. Very often people are delayed in town for one reason or another and they find they must pay the ordinary bus fare. I suggest a concession could be introduced to ensure that people might use their rail tickets on buses because we should do our best to encourage people to use suburban rail services rather than buses or private transport in view of the growing congestion of traffic in  Dublin. Considerable reference has been made to the modernised buses. On routes Nos. 7 and 8, which serve the areas of Dún Laoghaire and Dalkey——
Dr. Belton Dr. Belton
Dr. Belton: What about Sallynoggin?
Mr. Keery Mr. Keery
Mr. Keery: The No. 7A bus travels to Sallynoggin. On the No. 8 bus route we have not yet seen these modernised buses for the simple reason that one section of the road is too narrow for buses of this size and this difficulty has recently led to an unfortunate accident on the Ulverton Road. Perhaps CIE could look into the possibility of running the route on a one-way basis; I should like to see this coming from CIE rather than the gardaí or the public when it is too late and an accident has occurred. In the case of the No. 8 bus route there is an alternative one-way route available and CIE might consider the possibility of using this. The local development organisation have pointed out the possibilities on a number of occasions but so far without success.
On a final point, the canals cost CIE £72,919 each year. There have been rather confusing reports in the papers recently that perhaps responsibility for the canals — this applies particularly to the Grand Canal — may be transferred to the Office of Public Works. I should be interested to know if there are any plans in this direction, particularly as I am one of the people who hope that the canal will be retained as an amenity. Under the control of the Office of Public Works, which have an interest in the preservation of monuments and amenities, it might have a better chance than it had under CIE. I should be glad if the Minister could let us know what is happening in this matter.
They are the detail points I wish to make. There have been tremendous improvements in the attitude and image of CIE and I hope this will continue. The theme I would stress is that they should resist the temptation to run away with gimmicks and pop music on trains and decorations at railway stations. I believe that a transport  system wins on service alone and I think additional suburban train services to Dún Laoghaire, Dalkey and Bray would be worth much more than the provision of pop music, tinsel and decorations in the railway stations. I wholeheartedly recommend this Bill.
Mr. W. O'Brien Mr. W. O'Brien
Mr. W. O'Brien: It is generally accepted that a community needs a public transport service with the emphasis on the needs of the community rather than on the economics of the operation of the service. I hope I will be forgiven if I refer to the staff of CIE, I being a CIE man myself. I should like to pay a tribute to the staff. They deserve the greatest praise because they work in bad conditions and I often wonder if the great service they have given has been recognised by the board.
There are many men employed by CIE whose wages do not exceed £15. Drivers of one-man buses get only £15 or £16 per week. I wonder if that is recognition of the service they are giving. There is a lot of talk about this subvention. It has been criticised by many people who often think that it is the workers of CIE on whom most of the money is spent but the manual workers of CIE are not well paid.
Prior to 1967, CIE operated more social services than they are now doing. At least since 1967 the Department of Education have made some contribution to their funds, but prior to then the board operated a service for schoolchildren that was uneconomic. Parents could not afford to pay any more with the result that the company were operating at an uneconomic rate. We recently had experience of the bad conditions in the coaching department at Heuston Station. One hundred and thirty men were employed during 12 months but 93 left because of the conditions.
During the course of this discussion it was mentioned that the closing of branch lines was a bad idea. Senator Russell spoke about the closing of the lines but I thought it was strange that as a Clareman he did not emphasise that it was a mistake because West Clare has a great tourist potential and  the discontinuance of the branch lines has an adverse effect in West Clare. With regard to the railways the question of national percentage is concerned. It is not possible to have a modern European state if we do not have a railway. It was a mistake to discontinue the rail services in that part of the country.
With regard to existing train service, the service offered leaves nothing to be desired. For example, a train leaves Limerick at 8.20 every morning and arrives at Kingsbridge Station at 10.45 a.m. We can be proud of that service. It is a service that is run by a very efficient staff and if those people who do not avail of the service would only realise what they are missing I am sure that they would use the service much more often.
In conclusion, I should like to pay tribute to the board in general. They have handled a difficult job. A staff of 20,000 people probably means that the board are looking after 50,000 people when children are taken into account. For that reason and because CIE are the second largest employers in the State I consider the subvention to be not at all too great.
Mr. Honan Mr. Honan
Mr. Honan: I agree with what most of the other people have said with regard to the service that is provided by CIE. I have availed of that service and I must say that I see considerable improvements every year. Senator Russell mentioned that the managerial staff have become more forward in their outlook and that they are coming to grips with the problem that exists in providing the service required. Of course, legislation to provide for a subvention is not the sort of legislation about which anybody would go into ecstasies, but CIE probably have compensatory factors and they are providing a service that would probably be difficult to provide in any set circumstances. I do not wish to go into any details but I was attracted to the suggestion of Senator Russell for a national consultative transport group who would come together occasionally to discuss transport tendencies in the country. I do not know if Senator  Russell was thinking on exactly the same lines as I am.
Something that alarms me at times is the tremendous amount of money that must be provided out of capital resources for codes and the general regulation of traffic problems as they apply to the country as a whole. Our main arterial highways are designed in the most part for private traffic but we now find that they are being clogged by heavy transport, very often big lorries with as many as two trailers in tow.
The Minister might consider that a number of the main transport people, people who have transport problems and people who are involved in solving these problems, might be brought together at some stage to see whether the services could be utilised to a greater extent. An effort must be made to get some of these larger lorries off the road thereby making the roads more viable for the purpose for which they were intended in the first instance. On the road from Limerick to here one may find a mile of the road impassable because of these huge lorries. This traffic might well be carried by the railways. It would serve the national transport very considerably and it would save a great deal of money that is being presently wasted on the roads if people who have goods to transport together with the people who have the means of transporting them could come together to consider how this could best be done because it is quite possible that in five or six years time the main arterial roads will be practically denied to private users.
Now that CIE have really got their teeth into the transport problem, perhaps with the help of outside people, people who have problems in the transportation field, if they were brought together and had some kind of consultations, they might, if they could not solve the whole problem, certainly alleviate it. Most of the railways that I know of now are equipped for handling container traffic. When people talk of container traffic they are usually speaking in terms of export, but we have a container problem within the country also. By using these methods,  much of this heavy traffic could be kept off the roads and the massive amounts of money that are spent on our arterial roads might be used with greater benefit if we split the burden and shifted some of the big stuff on to the rail and left the roads available for the people for whom they were intended. If that is what Senator Russell had in mind I think it is a good idea. The roads cannot be allowed to become completely choked up with these heavy lorries when this could be given over to CIE remuneratively for both the sender and the haulier.
Dr. Belton Dr. Belton
Dr. Belton: Like other speakers, I welcome this Bill. It has taken some people some time to come around to the view that providing trains and buses is a service. The idea that was in some people's minds a few years ago that a service of this nature should be self-supporting is no longer tenable. This is a service and if this view were held seven years ago perhaps some of the branch lines that were closed would not have been closed. Senators have adverted to the West Clare Railway. Senator Sheehy Skeffington spoke of the Harcourt Street line and also referred to the Bantry line in West Cork. If at that stage people had a conception of the whole transport system as a service those branch lines might not have been annihilated. In the future they may be a necessity for the tourist trade and possibly for industry in those places.
The Minister made a reference to Ostlanna Éireann Teoranta. He said that the Estimates exclude the profits of Ostlanna Éireann, the CIE hotels subsidiary, as these profits are retained by the company to finance their capital expenditure. Other Members of this House may know exactly what the relationship is between CIE and Ostlanna Éireann Teoranta. I am not clear on it. Conflicting reports come out which make me believe that I do not understand it. Is there a financial link between Ostlanna Éireann Teoranta and CIE? If so, the trend here shows that the future holds a prospect of the hotels section of CIE being capable of subsidising to some extent the future costs of CIE. If there is no financial arrangement  between them or if statutorily they are separate, why go to the trouble of calling them Ostlanna Éireann Teoranta? Why not call them Ryans?
Mr. B. Lenihan Mr. B. Lenihan
Mr. B. Lenihan: Now, now. We are having a very clean debate. Keep it that way.
Dr. Belton Dr. Belton
Dr. Belton: The State has involved itself in the development of hotels in that it subsidises Aer Lingus and Aer Lingus have invested in hotels. It seems to me that having Ostlanna Éireann Teoranta and Aer Lingus investing in hotels is a duplication of services. If the State is to involve itself in the provision of hotels this does not seem to me to be the correct way to go about it.
Traffic is becoming a very serious problem. To enjoy the services of CIE we need good, comfortable vehicles but we also need to get from place to place. In any Transport Bill the question of traffic should come up. It would reduce bus fares if a bus could get from one point to another at a greater speed. The turnover would be greater and would thereby if not reduce fares at least prevent them from rising at the enormous rate at which they have been rising.
I am not as conversant with Cork as I am with Dublin but I know it reasonably well. This problem will arise in Cork and also in Limerick. In Dublin, traffic is at a standstill at certain times of the day. The Minister, I am sure, knows this and is trying to find a way to solve it. There are certain solutions to this, for instance to ban all parking in the centre of the city and to allow only through traffic. That is to make the centre of the city a clearway especially at certain times. This brings me to the question of parking meters. I wonder if the Minister knows that this system has been tried out in many cities throughout the world and is now being taken away.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach An Leas-Chathaoirleach
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: The Senator is entitled to talk about traffic in so far as it affects the operation of CIE, but to go into detail on various matters of control would not be appropriate.
Dr. Belton Dr. Belton
 Dr. Belton: I was trying to point out that actually traffic affects transport.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach An Leas-Chathaoirleach
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: I appreciate the point the Senator was making initially but I was afraid he had strayed somewhat from his original point.
Dr. Belton Dr. Belton
Dr. Belton: Another aspect of this matter which the Department of Local Government could look into which would expedite traffic is the installation of an underground or subway pedestrian crossing in certain places in the city. At least this is being entertained although it is not known whether it will be proceeded with. It might be some solution to the traffic problem. I am not an expert on engineering matters but I have been speaking to some of those people and they have different ideas on it. The most progressive ones might think it would be good but others would ask where is the money to come from.
Senator Sheehy Skeffington and Senator Keery emphasised the importance of the commuter services. They were referring to train services in particular. I agree with both of them and that is why I query the advisability of closing the Harcourt Street line. It is a pity that more people do not avail of those services. Too many people today are using cars to come into town and to go home later in the day. This is causing some of the traffic congestion I referred to before. Only one person occupies most of those cars. I wonder if it would be feasible for all local authorities to put a daily tax on each vacant seat in those cars coming into town of 10s. It would certainly reduce the number of cars travelling if a fee of 10s had to be paid for every vacant seat in the car. If there was any way of administering that it might be a way to subsidise CIE.
Senator Sheehy Skeffington spoke about the colour of the buses. I think the reason for the colour is mainly one of safety in that buses run not only in the city but throughout the country and the green colour did not contrast sufficiently with the scenery around. I may be wrong in this but I think  this was the main reason for changing the colour.
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington Dr. Sheehy Skeffington
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: You could put a band of orange around them.
Dr. Belton Dr. Belton
Dr. Belton: I was going to suggest in fact if they put a few more advertisements on them they need not have changed the colour.
Tomás Ó Maoláin Tomás Ó Maoláin
Tomás Ó Maoláin: It was suggested that the red buses were better on long distance routes and on country roads.
Dr. Belton Dr. Belton
Dr. Belton: There is another aspect of this matter which might relieve traffic congestion in Dublin, that is the erection of this bridge we have been hearing so much about on the seaward side of Butt Bridge. We might get some information on this when the Minister is winding up the debate. I do not know at what stage this stands now, but it would certainly relieve the flow of traffic if there was another bridge across the Liffey. Delays on buses were mentioned by Senator Keery who spoke especially about the Dalkey, Dún Laoghaire and Sallynoggin routes. There are great delays on those routes and then afterwards three and four buses arrive together.
I should like to ask the Minister to get CIE to provide a service more quickly than they have been doing to new estates. They never provide a service to those new estates until representations are made to them from residents' associations and other bodies interested. They never think of this themselves. In fact they have to be forced into providing a serivce to people in new estates. As everybody knows, most new houses today are situated in very inconvenient places to work. They are situated at great distances from places of employment, whether it be a business or an office, from shops or even from where they get their hair done.
Mícheál Cranitch Mícheál Cranitch
Mícheál Cranitch: Is mian liom ar an gcéad dul síos a rá go bhfuil áthas orm féin, agus gan dabht, ar gach Seanadóir eile an tAire Iompair agus Cumhacht a fheicheál annso in ár measc arís. Guimíd fad saol dó san obair atá á dhéanamh aige. Practically every  speaker this afternoon had something very nice to say about CIE. I add my voice to their's. I say from my own experience of travelling here and abroad that first of all, as far as trains are concerned, we have a service which is more than comparable with that in existence in Great Britain and on the Continent.
When we speak of a transport service we have in mind first of all safety. Thanks be to God we have a magnificent record of safety in our transport system in this country, due to divine Providence without doubt, but to a large extent due to the efficiency and care of the splendid body of men we have working in our transport system. The maintenance crews, the drivers, fitters, workers of all kinds, all work with a will to ensure the safety of the passengers. Safety then is number one and punctuality is probably number two. There was a time when punctuality was not a decided characteristic of either our transport system or indeed of ourselves generally, but those things are changing and we are becoming more punctual as time goes on. Certainly our transport system has reached a very high standard in this regard. If you leave Cork and travel to Dublin by train you may be sure you will arrive on the mark with a variation of no more than one minute too early or a half a minute too late, but never more than that.
Along with safety and punctuality we have the question of comfort. Certainly our trains are as comfortable, if not more comfortable, than most of the trains you will travel on in Great Britain or the Continent. Furthermore, especially on long journeys, when one requires meals or drinks we have on CIE trains an excellent meal service. It is nothing short of magnificent. The food is excellent and very well served with politeness and courtesy.
I have just one small criticism in passing. I am not a drinking man myself but I do like a bottle of stout now and again before a meal and I notice that the price of a bottle of stout in the trains is 2/2d. This is rather high, and I have heard quite a number of complaints from travellers who may prefer a number of bottles of stout rather than my one.
 As far as trains go, there is bound to be a loss for various reasons. Train services in all the countries of Europe as far as I know run at a loss, and we are in the position here through being an island of not having any great through traffic through our island as compared with a country like Switzerland where you have trains going through at all hours of the day and night back and forward from Paris to Rome, Rome to Paris, et cetera. I understand that the greatest costs in running a railway service are what they call terminal costs, which far exceed haulage costs. Our longest haulage distance would be from Dublin to Cork which is 166 miles. It would be something longer, of course, from Dublin to Killarney or Tralee; but if we had longer haulage I have no doubt that we would break even, almost, in this day and age, which would be almost a miracle.
That being so, the subvention of £2 million a year for the past five years was a very accurate estimate by CIE, and if it was exceeded by £642,460 it does not take from the fact that it was a very accurate estimate, because meantime we had inflation. I suppose we have not any cure for inflation and we must accept these things, and what would have been £2,000 five years ago could gradually work up to a much higher figure now. We will be lucky if in view of the fact that prices will still probably go up in the next five years and if and when we get into the Common Market — goodness knows when that will be — we will be very lucky if the cost of running our railway system does not exceed an annual subsidy of £2,650,000.
Our bus transport — again, of human beings, excellent; services very punctual, very clean, drivers and conductors excellent as far as courtesy, politeness, accuracy in giving change et cetera. All these things mean that they make a very favourable impression on tourists. May I specially commend CIE for their educational tours. Speaking as a teacher I can say that the big event in any school in the country is the day of the educational tour. Children who may have never been outside their own village can for a very reasonable fare come along to  Dublin, visit the zoo, visit and inspect various other buildings, and not alone can the children come but their parents can come too. This I think is a magnificent idea from CIE, this running of these educational tours at a very reasonable cost.
Speaking of schools I have a little criticism to offer regarding the school services. You may think that I am attempting to run off the rails in as much as school transport services, especially for national schools, is a matter mostly for CIE and Education, but in my own area children come to their parish national school by CIE buses from two miles, 2½ miles or three miles away. There is no bus service in the evening, and quite a number of them if they do not get a lift from somebody have to walk home in all weathers. I wonder would the Minister agree that there is to some extent I would not say an obligation but maybe a partial obligation on CIE to help to resolve that problem? I am sure that this problem exists in other areas than mine.
One of the little things we should beware of, and one of the things that could spoil our splendid transport service, would be the development of a careless attitude as far as details were concerned — little irritations. Tourists are coming every year, and will continue to come. This is one of our greatest industries, and we must leave no stone unturned to see that there are no irritations. I had an experience of an irritation some time ago. I went into a big bus station. I wanted the latest bus timetable. I knocked at inquiries and a very obliging lad put out his head. I told him what I wanted and he said: “Yes, there is an office down there where you can get the timetables. You won't have any bother. The timetables cost sixpence and they give details of everything.” “Very good” I said, “That is very satisfactory”. I was going down to get one and I was just a little away from the office when he called back and said “You won't be able to get them. The office is closed since 5.45.” It did not matter a great deal to me, because I was able to come back the following day and get one, but little things like  that are irritations, and had it been a tourist it would be a thing that would have irritated him. Why not have a number of these timetables at the inquiries office when the other office would close? That is one example of irritation which could cause a great deal of damage over a length of time.
That is about all I have to say except to commend CIE on its record of which every one of us should be very proud. It is one of our greatest industries. Any industry that will pay £20 million into the pockets of wage earners is no small industry. Furthermore, it has the advantage that that £20 million is being given not in any particular area but right through the country, and contributes a great deal to the contentment and prosperity of our people.
Professor Quinlan Professor Quinlan
Professor Quinlan: This Bill provides us after five years with a rather brief opportunity to have another look at CIE. We can see that good strides have been made in the intervening period. Obviously the system looks more efficient and businesslike. It has got injections of capital and these have put it into a reasonably good position. Above all there is an acceptance that it is more a social service, or at least a service to the community, a type of service that should be maintained, and that we have to pay the price for maintaining this service. Of course we should use every opportunity possible and every method possible to get as much efficiency as can be got into such a system and for that we must pay the price. Far gone are the ideas of the wild-eyed economists who eight or ten years ago thought that by lopping off branch lines you were suddenly going to make CIE run without a subsidy. That was the 1958 Act in effect. At that time on this side we went on record that this was going to do irreparable damage by closing those lines, even if foresight had prevailed to keep the permanent way intact for the better future which we all knew should come and would come.
Tomás Ó Maoláin Tomás Ó Maoláin
Tomás Ó Maoláin: Was not the Senator a great prophet?
Professor Quinlan Professor Quinlan
Professor Quinlan: As soon as the decision was taken to close the railways  there was an alarming rush to see the lines taken up and the bridges dismantled before anyone could succeed in getting the services back to those areas.
Mr. B. Lenihan Mr. B. Lenihan
Mr. B. Lenihan: If they had been allowed remain the bill today might be bigger.
Professor Quinlan Professor Quinlan
Professor Quinlan: It might have been worthwhile to leave the railways in West Cork especially. There is great expense on road works. Both rail and road services are complementary. I agree with Senator Russell and others who drew attention to the rapidly deteriorating condition of roads because of heavy lorry traffic on them. Use of heavy lorries is the greatest single contributory factor to traffic holdups in both cities and elsewhere. Road works are responsible for constant demands on local authorities. The amounts given for road improvements are very high. The amount of damage caused by the heavy lorries is great. Looking to the future with its problems of increased traffic, we should try and plan to get as much heavy traffic as possible back on to the railways.
This has been done successfully in the USA. Many of the US methods can be copied here even though their operations are on a much larger scale. CIE should pioneer this type of shuttleservice. They should see that their own traffic service uses the railroads as much as possible. CIE should pioneer container traffic within the country. They should set a headline for private enterprise by showing how rail and road transport can be combined. In five years' time I hope we will be able to record that some progress has been made in this respect. I would like to see more stringent traffic regulations imposed on large lorries. Minimum distances between such lorries should be prescribed. There should be regulations about such lorries so that fast-moving passenger traffic may pass them out.
A minimum speed limit is necessary also. Lorries travel at 30 miles an hour where they could quite easily travel at 50 miles an hour. CIE should set an example in this by giving suitable instructions to their road freight drivers.  On some occasions they offend as much as others against the regulations. Traffic congestion is building up by 8 or 9 per cent per annum. Road traffic could double in the next eight or nine years. Our present traffic difficulties will be greatly increased. It was not very wise to have the beet lorries passing through Cork when they could have been handled through the rail links. Lorries such as these should be kept out from the centre of the city. Private car traffic may have to be kept out of city centres or may have to be restricted to certain zones in cities. We have an acute traffic problem in Cork, second only to that of Dublin. A great contribution to solving this problem could be made if the through-traffic through Cork could be diverted.
We welcome very much the decision of the Government to take the control of the canals away from CIE and to make them the responsibility of the Office of Public Works. This should have been done long ago. At all times the canals were just a poor relation of the CIE system. A loss was shown which did not really amount to much considering the amenity which was being preserved. In 20 years time canals and waterways will play a large part in catering for the leisure time of the people. We must preserve the amenities we have. I congratulate the Government on taking this step and on deciding not to close the canals.
We take an increase of £2 million to £2.6 million rather lightly. It is approximately an increase of one-third. That is a very sizeable increase on any Estimate, especially when the deficit over the past five years was £650,000, or about 5 per cent on average. Target figures were set and we all know what target figures mean. In a big concern like CIE they mean that the firm cannot go above a certain figure in their spending. This figure represents generosity on the part of the Government. I hope they will extend such generosity to some universities and educational institutions in the country. If we produced a budget running well over the figure agreed because of increases in wages, for instance, we would be told to put up with it, but the State would not give us permission to write  off the deficit. There is an advantage in being a State-sponsored body.
With regard to the computer service I wish to state that if CIE had taken my money the deficit would be lower by £22 10s. I had booked a half hour's time on the computer to demonstrate the proportional representation count in October, 1968. The time was cancelled.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach An Leas-Chathaoirleach
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: The Senator is not entitled to go into details on this instance.
Professor Quinlan Professor Quinlan
Professor Quinlan: With due deference, it is part of the deficit shown by CIE.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach An Leas-Chathaoirleach
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: There should be some proportion between the time spent and the ratio of the £22 10s involved.
Professor Quinlan Professor Quinlan
Professor Quinlan: It was an action which suggested to me that there were very strong political influences capable of being brought to bear on CIE. If there are any such influences in operation I hope they will cease but in my judgment it was a definite political influence and nothing else that prevented the running of that half-hour programme. Running a national transport system, which is a major service industry, should be completely free and above any suggestion of party influence or pressure either in employment or in the day-to-day activities of the company.
Tomás Ó Maoláin Tomás Ó Maoláin
Tomás Ó Maoláin: Give us a few examples of this. I am sick hearing of these anonymous pressures.
Professor Quinlan Professor Quinlan
Professor Quinlan: It is wonderful to see the example the Leader of the House can give in contributing to these debates.
Tomás Ó Maoláin Tomás Ó Maoláin
Tomás Ó Maoláin: I am pretty good but thank you for the tribute.
Professor Quinlan Professor Quinlan
Professor Quinlan: A computer section is essential and quite a part in the modernisation of CIE with its various types of analyses, work studies and so on but I do not think the CIE service should envisage a large workload from outside. In the next five-year period when computers are getting  bigger and bigger we should be heading towards a central computer centre in Dublin that would cater for such users and perhaps when that day comes I may even be able to get my half-hour the same as anybody else. Even though Senator Ó Maoláin may not like the results the computer might produce, he will concede that it is politically neutral.
Tomás Ó Maoláin Tomás Ó Maoláin
Tomás Ó Maoláin: I will, if you allow me to feed the computer with the questions.
Professor Quinlan Professor Quinlan
Professor Quinlan: I wish to deal with the many specialist sections in CIE that have been built up in the last five, six or seven years; they are the economic section, work study and the many specialist sections within the operation of the enterprise itself involving specialists in their abilities and their specialist knowledge on the coordination of road and rail transport. It is excellent that we have these sections and I believe they could be, if they are not already, brought into participation in the scheme which the Minister for Industry and Commerce had here in the last 12 months when there was a Bill proposed to enable Córas Tráchtála to encourage our people to engage in consultation to outside countries. There is great potential for this in CIE because many countries in the world have similar traffic problems. We have valuable specialists and it could be a useful sideline for CIE to develop a practice of consultation with other nations regarding their transport problems. I commend this to the Minister who might ask the CIE board whether, in fact, they can participate more fully in this.
I should like to draw attention to the question of bus fares which, I think, have gone up in the last five years much more rapidly than has the cost of living or the rate of wage increases. Perhaps the Minister could give me some figures to see what is the percentage increase in bus charges during the past five years. I know of one case where five years ago a 3d fare covered a distance of one and a half miles; this same distance now costs 6d. There may be many other cases where fares have doubled also and I think  the rate of 4d a mile for travel on buses is rather expensive and hits all sections in the city.
CIE have made commendable improvements and the Government have made a commendable improvement also in taking a more realistic attitude that they can neither legisate CIE into solvency or force them into solvency but we must face the fact if we want a public service we have got to pay for it and this is what this Bill is doing.
Ruairí Brugha Ruairí Brugha
Ruairí Brugha: It is nice to hear Senator Quinlan complimenting the Government. I shall be brief on the matter of CIE, which provide an excellent national service. From time to time I manage to get away from Dublin to a remote part of the country and certainly from the point of view of people living in west Kerry the fact that there is a bus available at least twice a week is a great social service for them. I do not know how far any community should go in providing a social service of this kind at a cost to the ordinary taxpayer but I think we should maintain it.
A point which interested me is the increase in income from coach tours which showed an increase of £218,000 to £730,000 in the years from 1963 to 1968. This is an interesting figure because up to five years ago there was resistance to allowing outside coach services to come in here. It is significant to know despite the fact that outside coach services have to a large extent been allowed in here during the summer CIE have succeeded in increasing their business.
On the question of communication down the line in CIE I should like to ask the Minister if this is being done. Some years ago during a series of week-end bus strikes I asked an inspector, who has since died, whether he or anyone at his level had been called in to advise the management on how the drivers and conductors in Dublin were feeling and he said they had not been asked. I have been involved myself at management level communications with workers for more than 25 years and I consider if there is anything in this story that it is a  matter that needs to be looked into. It is absolutely essential that not alone should those who are working in a public service know what the management are thinking and have clearly explained to them the reasons for various decisions but it is even more important that management have a good idea how their workers are thinking and feeling and know their problems.
Senator Belton referred to the question of traffic in Dublin and I should like to relate this to the economics of CIE. A recent estimate given by one of the engineers of Dublin Corporation estimated that the loss to the community and to the economy arising out of increasing traffic in the next five years in Dublin, over and above the possible loss of the present day, would be in the region of £12 to £14 million per annum and this loss was due to a slowing down of the services. One of the main problems with which CIE have to contend in Dublin is, as Senator Belton mentioned, the large number of cars coming into the city in the morning with just one person, the driver, who leaves his car in town all day and drives home at night thereby contributing to congestion and to the cost in time and money to CIE.
A speaker on the opposite side of the House referred to the question of parking meters and said that they were being removed in other cities. I should like to know which other cities he had in mind. It seems to me that the idea of parking meters is a very good one. If those people who drive into the city in the morning have to go out every hour or half-hour to put a shilling in the meter they will soon stop bringing in their cars and CIE will benefit in fare-paying passengers.
I should like to refer to the facilities that CIE make available for the parking of cars in a few areas. If they are not thinking of doing so they should look to the question of plotting a fairly large number of parking areas around the perimeter of the city, particularly now that parking meters are being introduced. They might also use the radio service which they are using sometimes in the mornings and sometimes in the evenings to pinpoint these areas so that a driver caught in traffic will be  reminded that he can leave his car at Conyngham Road, Clontarf, Dollymount or wherever it may be. Through the use of the medium of radio, CIE could do a lot to encourage the parking of cars on the perimeter of the city.
Another way in which radio communication could be used would be to inform people of when trains are delayed. Very often there are delays at suburban rail stations for very good reasons but I have been informed by quite a few people that there is no way of knowing that the train will not come and this can be very difficult for people who must reach their work on time.
Finally, as one who has been driving all my life in Dublin, I should like to compliment the drivers and conductors of the buses on the extraordinary patience displayed by them. Naturally, there is the odd one who loses his temper and there may be the odd driver who will pull out into traffic, but one tends to notice only the one who breaks the rules. The great majority of them are very patient and courteous. They work frequently in very difficult conditions because of traffic congestion and so on but I have the greatest respect for them. Indeed, I also have great sympathy for them. We support this Bill and in doing so we can be proud of the transport service.
Professor Kelly Professor Kelly
Professor Kelly: I should like to add a few words to those which have been spoken from my side in regard to our support for this Bill. I am far from being an expert on transport matters and if I display ignorance I apologise to the House in advance for so doing.
I agree with what Senator Brugha has just said in regard to the kind of people that we are lucky enough to have working in our transport system. I should like to go on record, as others have done, in saying that in my experience I have never come across anything but courtesy, helpfulness and efficiency from CIE. The people who operate the train service are particularly to be commended. There are many instances in which an Irish man who travels abroad has to draw the sad conclusion that things here are not as  good as they are in other countries, but the rail system is not one of these things. We have nothing to learn from British Transport in so far as punctuality, courtesy and helpfulness are concerned. I wish to add that genuine tribute to the tributes already paid from both sides of the House to the people who operate the train services. The same goes for our bus services and I should like to repeat, almost in the same words, what Senator Brugha said about the people who operate the Dublin city services. At this moment— 5.25 p.m. — there are a couple of hundred men sitting in small cabins driving buses across the city in very bad weather conditions and it is very difficult for them to manage to keep their self-control. I do not know if it is possible for the Minister for Transport and Power to convey these tributes to the staff.
Mr. B. Lenihan Mr. B. Lenihan
Mr. B. Lenihan: I certainly will.
Professor Kelly Professor Kelly
Professor Kelly: Senator Sheehy Skeffington referred to the closing of the Harcourt Street line but of course the suburbs that were served by that line are for the most part thinly populated and most of the inhabitants would use the rail service only occasionally because most of them are in the private car owning category. I agree with the general idea of Senator Sheehy Skeffington that the closing of lines was premature and that leads me to the reflection that the existing great lines are not properly used and are possibly not sufficiently operated for the purpose of serving the city. Going by train to Galway or to Limerick, one is out of Dublin and into the green fields within minutes and I wonder if the authority in CIE would represent to the planning authorities that any further suburban or corporation development in this city should take account of transport facilities. It seems to me incorrigible that any man, whether he be a one-car or a three-car owner, would refuse to avail himself of speedy facilities into the city and in that way to get to the centre of the city much faster and so to acquiesce while living in Lucan, Hazelhatch or even Sallins which are totally unbuilt-up areas.
I am not advocating the spoliation  of the countryside, but any further development should take transport facilities into account. CIE have much leeway to make up in attracting passengers to the rail services. I feel we should consider closing, even if on an experimental basis and for a limited period, the centre of the city altogether to ordinary private traffic. I realise that if that is ever done there will have to be exceptions to the generality of the closure. It is perfectly clear that doctors, ambulances and fire brigades will still need to go through, that there will have to be a couple of throughway arteries to enable people to cross the river and, of course, old and handicapped people cannot be asked to leave their cars on the perimeter, as Senator Burgha suggests, but so far as the ordinary motorist is concerned I believe we should experiment. It might be a disaster, of course, and if it is we can drop the experiment, but we might experiment by closing the centre part of the city and supplying instead large fleets of small buses, perhaps the size of school buses, with multiple destinations and perhaps allowing a much larger number of taxis to operate at, of course, correspondingly cheaper rates to see whether this will ease the traffic situation in general and the position of the CIE bus services in particular.
I believe it would ease it. The question is whether it would be an inconvenience to the public in other respects. I can see that trade interests would feel it and so on, but it is something that the transport authority ought to consider and if they are in favour of it the transport authority ought to bring their feelings to bear on the planning authority.
I should like to say a few words in regard to the catering services of CIE which, I am glad to see, have been extremely successful. The standards in the CIE hotels—and in the course of my periegesis of the island during the election campaign I visited nearly all of them—are extremely high. The people who run those hotels deserve congratulations for maintaining such high standards. However, I must observe that in the high season the prices in these hotels are very high: indeed they are so high that I  have to suppose that the ordinary Irish citizen is not intended to use them. In Galway in July I discovered that the cost of a single room in the Great Southern Hotel was £4, not counting breakfast. I realise that we must cater for the luxury international trade and that there are people who will pay these prices, but I cannot conceal a certain sense of resentment that the ordinary Irish citizen cannot use a CIE hotel without spending this, to him, very large amount of money. It is a good development that the CIE hotels division are now apparently concentrating on the cheap tourist hotel. One is being or has been built in Rosslare. This is a development which deserves to succeed and I hope it will succeed.
I have one suggestion to make which I hope the Minister will think is helpful. CIE have been less than adventurous in developing the terminal stations as restaurants and bars. There are, of course, bars in all the terminal stations and in many of the stations in the midlands and a couple of stations have got refreshment rooms, but I observe, travelling on the Continent, that in several countries, Germany in particular and also Austria and Italy, the railway company lease out a concession to some private enterprise caterer to run restaurants and bars on the station premises. It may be that CIE would make more money by doing this, but if they do not wish to overexpand in this way they might consider adopting this Continental system whereby space is made available on the station premises and is rented out to somebody who undertakes, subject, of course, to reasonable supervision, to provide the restaurant services. I look for example at the station in Dún Laoghaire which is in a beautiful situation, in a most favoured neighbourhood, a very thickly populated tourist area. Unless it has changed a good deal since I was there, the refreshment facilities it provides are fairly limited. What I ask myself is whether space might be made available and a restaurant operated there either by CIE or by a concessionaire who would provide the facilities for tourists and for ordinary citizens and which would provide additional income for the company.
Tomás Ó Maoláin Tomás Ó Maoláin
 Tomás Ó Maoláin: Hear, hear.
Professor Kelly Professor Kelly
Professor Kelly: Like everybody else in the country, I wish CIE success. We have come a long way from the time when CIE were a kind of joke, when the mere mention of CIE on the stage or in Dublin Opinion provoked a laugh. They are not a joke any longer and the credit for lifting the company out of the joke category goes to the people who have worked there so hard over the years. We all sincerely wish them success. We are sorry that it costs us money, we are sorry that the taxpayers' money has to be spent on them because of their social as well as commercial aspect, but we sincerely wish them success and wish the Minister success in his efforts to help them.
Mr. McElgunn Mr. McElgunn
Mr. McElgunn: I wish to say a few words about the closing of branch lines. It was mentioned here that this put a burden on the rates which had to provide roads. My recollection of the closing of the branch lines is that the Government made substantial grants, wherever, a branch line was closed, to improve and reconstruct the roads in those areas.
The second point I want to make is in regard to school transport. One of the most hopeful signs in the country is the the yellow school buses which one sees in rural Ireland. They are an augury for the future of our country, they are a sign of progress and they have made a tremendous difference to rural Ireland. When the Minister is replying I should like him to tell us what are the powers of the drivers of these buses to enforce discipline. From time to time one hears complaints about the behaviour of children on school buses.
I should also like the Minister to tell us what is the position of operators of mini-buses where they are being forced out of business by the extension of the CIE bus service.
I see that the canals are still running at a loss. I welcome the proposal that the Dublin section of the Grand Canal is to be kept open and that a tunnel will be used instead of the horrible proposal to put a sewer along the bottom of the canal. Many people are clapping themselves on the backs  and claiming credit for this. One would imagine, to hear those people, that the Fianna Fáil Party are a party of philistines, people who are bent on destruction. I should like it to be recorded as saying that as far back as 1963 at the Ard Fheis of my party, I made a proposal that the canal be kept open.
At that time I was actuated, I must say, far more by the economic needs and necessities of the part of Ireland from which I come, that is the Leitrim and Roscommon areas, than by aesthetic considerations in the city of Dublin. We were afraid that the closure of the canal would militate against the development of boating on the Shannon. We are glad to see the canal kept open. Senator Quinlan mentioned that possibly in the next ten or 15 years we would see a growth of traffic on the canals and rivers. I can say that in my own town of Carrick-on-Shannon we have had a Government investment of £100,000 for the provision of jetties and so on on the Shannon. There is a capital investment of the order of £250,000 and that is just in one town for this cruiser development. That is why I am glad to see the canal being kept open.
Mr. Dunne Mr. Dunne
Mr. Dunne: In welcoming this Bill I welcome also the opportunity to join with other Senators in the rightful tribute they have paid to CIE employees. As an ex-railwayman, I can testify that the tradition of the service which has always distinguished the railway service in this country continues with the present employees in the rail section of CIE.
There has not been very much reference to the employees in the road freight section of CIE. Here again, and perhaps through my own experience as a trade union official on the docks, I can testify to the very hard and dedicated work of the men in that section of CIE. It is essential in the proper operation of a port, particularly, if I may say so, of the size of the port of Dublin, that time-keeping schedules be fairly strictly adhered to. In this connection we have certainly no quarrel, indeed quite the opposite, with our worker-colleagues in the road freight section.
Enough has been said about our bus  crews. I have always felt, and I say this very genuinely, that two of the most difficult tasks today are those performed by bus drivers and bus conductors. As Senator Kelly said, if we picture at this moment the many hundreds of men huddled in the very small cabs of their buses wrestling with the very severe traffic problems they have to face, one does not know whether their state is worse than that of the conductors who are dealing with those humans who make very little allowance for their difficulties.
I am in the very unique position, too, that I am an ex-member of the board of CIE. I welcome this opportunity to say a few words on something that I understand has been said in another place with regard to the alleged political flavour of Government appointees to such boards. I can speak only from my own limited knowledge of trade union representation on the board of CIE but certainly so far as I was concerned when the present Minister's predecessor approached me and discussed my possible membership on the board of CIE, no mention whatsoever was made of my political affiliations, and those, of course, were well known to the Minister as being to the Labour Party; nor were any restrictions sought to be imposed on me in any way. I know enough of the integrity of my trade union colleagues on the board for the time I was on it, and from my successor on that board, to feel sure the same considerations apply to those gentlemen as did to myself.
I have but a few questions, and perhaps comments, which the Minister might like to take note of. I should like to know if both the capital advance and the annual subvention which are before us this evening are to the order of the recommendations of the boards of CIE or whether in fact that board sought greater sums under one or both headings. It seems to me that there is in this debate an acceptance of the social importance of CIE, and perhaps that was not always present, but it seems to me also that while glowing tributes have been paid, and rightly paid, to certain aspects of CIE administration, that is not to overlook the fact that there are certain difficulties  in that enterprise, particularly in the past I am glad to say, in the matter of industrial relations.
I would suggest that a major contributory factor to many of the difficulties of CIE is that we have this peculiar animal of a publicly-owned enterprise being operated in a private enterprise mentality. For that reason the board of CIE and, indeed, all employees of CIE, have been obliged to work very strictly, within the concept of profit and loss and the limitations of State aid. This has particularly reflected itself in the matter of the salaries and wages paid to their employees. I mean no disrespect to my colleague Senators when I say that the employees, to whom we have rightly paid tribute this afternoon, would prefer to see those tributes being more concretely expressed in the matter of better salaries and wages and would not give you, my colleagues or myself much thanks for words.
I feel the present policy of the Government in respect of CIE, as a result of which the Oireachtas were asked on occasions to inject capital into CIE, will not for too long suffice to deal with the problems inherent in a national transport enterprise and that sooner or later, and I would hope sooner, the Government would give very serious consideration to the whole question of where the national transport company stand in the national administration.
However generous the Government may be in injections of capital into CIE, it still remains true as far as I can judge that there is still pressure on the board and the administration of CIE to raise very big sums of money from their customers. This, in the profit and loss concept of capitalist economics, may seem justified, but we have to remember—and I speak here particularly of the passengers both rail and bus—that they are placed in the position where they in fact are making a dual contribution towards CIE. The majority of them, I would say, particularly today under PAYE, are contributing towards the upkeep and administration of CIE as taxpayers, and they are at the same time being obliged to make a contribution by way of fares and other payments of that kind.
 I would suggest to the Government that if not now perhaps in the future they would examine the socialist concept of national transport whereby in the socialist countries today such fares are not alone by our standards but by the standards of their own continent very low, and indeed consideration is being given to their total abolition— in other words a concept whereby it will be accepted in full, not in part, that the national transport is a national service and must be met by a complete national subvention. This may seem somewhat of a revolutionary policy at the moment, but I do not think so. I think that the day the State went into this field, the day that the national transport company were conceived and brought into being, we set ourselves on that road, and I repeat that perhaps some of our difficulties arise from the fact that we have only travelled half of that road.
I should like to say a word about containerisation, referred to, and very rightly so, in the Minister's speech. It would seem that CIE have—again I say rightly so—gone into this field of containerisation. I can assume from the Minister's speech that very heavy capital expenditure is considered under that heading. I do not claim to be an expert in transport, but I would suggest to the Minister and to the board that some care should be taken in this matter of containerisation, and it should not be too lightly accepted that containerisation represents the be-all and end-all of modern development in transport.
I have in a modest way some connections with transport, particularly sea transport, and I am aware that already and in advance, as it were, of containerisation, ships are now being built which will eliminate the need for containers as we have only recently come to know and live with them. Massive ships are on the stocks in the shipyards of the world, and particularly of Japan, which will carry not containers as we know them but lighters which at selected ports can be put overboard from these ships and travel by coastal seas to other ports in safety. There are other developments  and new concepts, and although I acknowledge that containerisation will develop and will be with us a long time I repeat a word of warning that it would be unwise if CIE were too lightly to take it that there will be no further developments along those particular lines.
On the question of buses, I should not like to introduce anything in the nature of a petty note here, but I like to think that we live in a Republic where all the citizens of this country are treated equally, and not alone that, but that the citizens of this country are treated equally with citizens of other countries; and although I appreciate the importance of the tourist industry, at the same time I think that a little more care could be given in the matter of the provision of buses. Too many of our people, I feel, are obliged to travel in buses which, to quote the Minister's statement, are over-aged, as it were. At the same time we see our tourists and indeed certain citizens on apparently favoured routes travelling in coaches second to none in luxury. It has been stated rightly that CIE, thanks to the dedication and perseverence of all concerned in the enterprise, have gone away from being a music hall joke. I would suggest that if they want to go along that road, and not suggest that they are not the national concern that they really are, they should avoid any semblance of giving more favourable treatment to one group of people than to another.
Finally, I am not clear about the canals. It has been stated that these have now been taken over by the Office of Public Works.
Mr. B. Lenihan Mr. B. Lenihan
Mr. B. Lenihan: Will be. Not yet. We have to bring in legislation.
Mr. Dunne Mr. Dunne
Mr. Dunne: At the moment it is CIE?
Mr. B. Lenihan Mr. B. Lenihan
Mr. B. Lenihan: That is right.
Mr. Dunne Mr. Dunne
Mr. Dunne: I should like either CIE or the Office of Public Works to make a very strong point in regard to the serious loss of life in so far as people are drowned in the canal, particularly as this is the cause of loss of lives of children. I hope that nobody will quote statistics and say that it was  only one last year and one the year before. One is too much. Not the least of the contributory factors to that unforunate loss of life, particularly of children, are the footbridges which here and there span the canals. They are footbridges with planks, I suppose six to eight inches wide. It is true that notice boards have been erected drawing attention to the danger, but children, if they do read those notices at all, will naturally, humanly enough, pay little attention to them. I would repeat that I should like if CIE or the Office of Public Works both would pay a little more attention to the safety factor of the canals than has previously been paid.
Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7.30 p.m.
Minister for Transport and Power (Mr. B. Lenihan) Brian (Snr.) Lenihan
Minister for Transport and Power (Mr. B. Lenihan): I should like to thank the Seanad for the very constructive discussion on this matter. It concerns the financing of CIE during the next five years. It is a straightforward measure to ensure that CIE are equipped financially, both on the capital and current sides, to carry on their various operations during the next five years. The planning and thought behind this are best exemplified by the fact that five years ago when the Transport Act, 1964, was introduced it was estimated that £2 million a year would be sufficient to carry the CIE railway deficit. It is a very fair tribute to the estimators of that time that the deficit was in excess of the figure planned by only half a million pounds.
The planned deficit of £10 million was only in the region of £10.5 million after five years. Having regard to the varied economic developments, the wage and salary claims and the other unforeseen factors, this figure demonstrates the reliability of the assessment made at that time. On this occasion we have carried on a similar detailed examination with CIE and the Department of Finance.
We have examined the figures in great detail and have come down on the side of the figure mentioned here in the motion of an annual subvention of £2,650,000 in the next five years. This figure practically approximates to  the figure of £2 million five years ago, having regard to the falling value of money. I agree with Senator Russell when he says that we may not have charged enough in this respect. The important thing is to try to pitch a figure which, although relieving CIE of the social obligation of maintaining a railway system, will ensure they will have an incentive. I do not agree with Senator Dunne when he says the profit and loss aspect is a matter for capitalist economies. In every economy, no matter what sort of economy it is, or whether it is styled socialistic or capitalistic, fundamentally all things come down to profit and loss, to plus and minus.
In speaking of CIE rail operations it is important to assess a figure which will strike a balance between maintaining what the community requires in regard to a basic rail system and to equate that with ensuring that it will be carried on as efficiently as possible. The only way to do that is to get a sum which will ensure that CIE management and staff generally will try to keep within such target set by the community through an Act of the Oireachtas and to be able to carry out the essential social service.
We struck a reasonable balance in the five-year period up to now. The figure now set will strike a reasonable balance for the next five years. It will set an incentive which CIE could keep within. That figure will ensure that the basic service will be maintained from the point of view of the community. What I said in my opening speech can be summed up pretty well in giving to the Seanad the figures for 1968-69 for CIE. Including financial charges, the principal losses were as follows: loss on railways, £3,174,130; loss on canals and vessels, £106,412; total loss, £3,280,542. That is a loss of £3 million odd. The surplus on other services came to £1,319,703, the net deficit came to £1,960,839. We have here the picture of CIE: making money on passenger services, making money on freight services and on hotels and losing money on the railways. This is something we as a community are committed to—to maintain the railways as a basic social and community asset, and this is precisely what this  Bill and the motion before us are concerned with.
In addition to the organisation of the deficit on current account during the next five years, as this House is aware we propose in the Bill to increase the level up to £17 million within which CIE can derive capital for further investment. Senator Russell, in a very constructive speech, mentioned the aspect of a national transport authority. Although at first sight this appears a very desirable approach, on second thought it is not so because I feel, in the transportation business particularly, the more competition you have the better. It is a business, particularly on the freight side, that is especially suited to competition.
On the passenger side we have provided a basic service but on the freight side I shall be bringing in legislation to liberalise the whole road transport system, to ensure there is total freedom for anyone to carry agricultural livestock and also to ensure that so far as existing plate-holders are concerned the existing restrictions will be relaxed to ensure that existing holders will have a 26-County licence without restriction as regards weight, commodity or area. In this field, liberalisation rather than nationalisation should be the order of the day. There are many fields of State activity in which nationalisation and socialisation are the proper things but in this sphere, particularly in the field of freight transportation, because of the intimate nature of the business deals involved and the various times and schedules involved, it is particularly suited to the competitive area.
I think that the more liberalisation we have in this field rather than nationalisation, the better. Indeed it is significant that the British Labour Party before the last general election had in mind the nationalisation of the road transport, but they rapidly forgot that after the election. I believe in being pragmatic about these things; if matters have to be done in that way, then let them be done but there is no point in socialising or nationalising merely for the sake of nationalising. The transportation field is particularly suited to private enterprise and to competition to keep down rates.
 The question of Óstlanna Éireann Teoranta was mentioned by Senators Russell and Belton. I would emphasise that the reason the hotel subsidiary is a separate organisation is that it is in its own right a highly-profitable organisation having little in common with transport problems. Their net operating profit for last year amounted to almost £200,000; in their own right also they have got substantial loan capital from outside CIE in addition to the loan from CIE and their assets in the form of hotels. The rest of the financing is by way of bank overdraft and Bord Fáilte grants. The proposed very rapid expansion in the coming years of the new type of motel operation may entail financing from abroad, it may entail equity investment on the part of people who wish to invest in a profit-making organisation and for these reasons it is important to have Óstlanna Éireann Teoranta as an independent body in a position to raise what finances they can in whatever money markets they can in order to expand this highly profitable organisation.
I will take up immediately the points by Senator Russell regarding the question of including Kilkee and Lahinch —two places very dear to me—in the Golden Holiday Scheme.
Senator Quinlan raised the question of the increase in bus fares in the past five years. It is interesting to read into this the relationship to other increases in our society. Fares may have increased by 43 per cent in the past five years but in the same period the national income has increased by 48 per cent and the weekly earnings for everybody in the transport goods industry has increased by 50 per cent. Therefore, these increases are of a higher percentage than the increased fares.
I will certainly pass on the point made by Senator Kelly in paying tribute to CIE staff. I have much sympathy with the point of view he expressed in regard to traffic congestion in the centre of the city. He advocated the very radical solution of closing the centre of the city to private motorists, and although we may not go so far at the present time, there is a committee studying this problem in  great detail. In my view this is the most important problem in the whole transportation field and Senator Kelly's radical solution may yet have to be adopted. However, this committee are examining ways and means of trying to solve this problem, which I agree urgently needs solution.
A number of points were made by various Senators concerning the question of surburban rail facilities for areas around Dublin. This matter has become rather emotive when linked with the Harcourt Street closure. As far as the Harcourt Street closure is concerned, the facts are inescapable; even if we had the chance at this present moment it would not be economic and this is the advice CIE have given to me. CIE are engaging consultants to study the suburban railways in the Dublin area with a view to determining their existing capacity and the future capacity for different levels of capital investment. This study will also establish the future likely role of suburban railways in the Dublin conurbation.
We should forget what is past and decide on which type of rail service might be adequate to fit in with the new developments that have taken place in our capital city as CIE have done in meeting the problem created by developments such as the Silvermines development in the Tipperary-Limerick and in other areas where it was necessary to do so.
The question of the canal has been mentioned. I can state categorically that as far as CIE are concerned as soon as we have finalised matters with the Dublin Corporation and the Office of Public Works, I will introduce the appropriate legislation to divest CIE of any involvement in the Grand Canal because this is a matter that we consider to be outside their particular ambit. CIE are concerned with presenting a commercial transport organisation outside the railways and our concern is to preserve a system from the point of view of social obligation to the community. As far as the Canal is concerned it is a matter for the community. The obligations of CIE under existing legislation arose because of CIE being a commercial carrier on the Canal but this is no longer so in the  realistic sense but the Canal should be retained and will be retained by divesting the responsibility on to the Office of Public Works who can maintain the link between Dublin and the Shannon system so that we will have a waterway system that will serve as a tourist attraction into the years ahead.
As far as CIE are concerned, we are very happy to participate in that divesting of responsibility and I am certain that nothing but good will come of it. It is a proper definition of responsibility to have control and management of a particular service where it properly belongs, and in this case it does not belong to CIE but to the Office of Public Works.
There was not very much that arose in the course of the debate that I have not referred to but I would like to emphasise one particular point that was raised and I hope I will be forgiven if I appear to be harping back on an old problem. It is said that you cannot have your cake and eat it, but it was mentioned here that there was some change of policy with regard to maintaining the railway system of CIE in a viable situation. This is not so, because what we have done is to rationalise the railway system of CIE and we have taken a sensible attitude in doing this. Had we retained the branch lines that we closed down, the Bill I would be seeking here would be for a million pounds more in round terms, but we took the middle course and a sensible one.
We did not take the attitude that was taken in Northern Ireland where they went the whole hog and liquidated the rail system. We took the middle course between liquidating the rail system and, at the same time, maintaining totally inefficient branch lines. We decided on what was a minimum rail system from the point of view of the community and we decided to ask the community to pay for that. This has worked out reasonably well and I am glad that from the attitude shown both in the other House and here this approach is now appreciated and it can be dealt with on an all-Party basis.
I do not agree with Senator Dunne that the commercial criteria should not be applied to the other operations of  CIE. It should be applied. This is the only way that we can ensure that management and staff are involved in doing a good job. We have reduced the rail system to a certain level and we have told CIE that as far as the rest are concerned they must make their way, and they are doing that in their hotels and in relation to the Dublin and provincial services, as Senator Russell says—more so on the provincial services and on the hotel side. They are making their way in a vigorous commercial manner and this is the proper criteria to apply once the community faces up to the responsibility. The accounts of CIE for the current year show this quite clearly and we are saying here that on behalf of the people we are allocating this amount of money to the rail system. We are saying that this is to keep the rail system going as a community obligation, but as far as the rest are concerned CIE are paying their way. This is the only approach in this age.
I should like to thank the Seanad for the reception given to the Bill and I welcome the various points of view that were made. Because of the fact that the Seanad do not get the opportunity of having a debate on Estimates as happens in the Dáil, some of the points of view raised might be more appropriate to an Estimate debate but they were interesting and helpful and I will have a note taken of them. I will be glad to communicate with Senators on any particular point that is raised.
Mr. Russell Mr. Russell
Mr. Russell: Perhaps the Minister will be good enough to communicate with me on the point about possible competition between CIE on the question of sea transport as against rail transport.
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins Mr. M.J. O'Higgins
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Senator Russell is not asking the Minister to answer that now.
Mr. B. Lenihan Mr. B. Lenihan
Mr. B. Lenihan: No, but I would just like to comment on it because Senator Russell is very close to it in Limerick at the moment and it is a problem which I am seeking to resolve to some small degree, as the Senator is aware, in regard to providing additional  facilities for the company in Limerick. It is a problem, certainly.
Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Bill put through Committee, reported without recommendation, received for final consideration, and ordered to be returned to the Dáil.
Seanad Éireann 67 Transport Bill, 1969 ( Certified Money Bill ): Second Stage.