Seanad Éireann - Volume 118 - 16 December, 1987
Death of Former Members. - Transport Bill, 1987: Second Stage (Resumed).
Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”
Minister of State at the Department of Tourism and Transport (Mr. Lyons) Denis Lyons
Minister of State at the Department of Tourism and Transport (Mr. Lyons): I want to take up where I left off before the intervention of a vote in the Dáil. I was talking about the increased fines and penalties. These increased penalties give a clear message to would-be offenders that their behaviour is unacceptable and will fall to be punished in a very substantial way. Interference with railway property and the proper operation of rail services cannot be tolerated.
Section 22 of the regulation of Railways Act, 1868, provides for penalties in relation to the provision of communication cords in trains as well as penalties for misuse. At present such cords  are required to be fitted in passenger trains which travel more than 20 miles without stopping. The potential penalty for not having communication cords is £10 and section 9 of the Bill provides for increasing the maximum penalty which may be imposed on a railway company for the non-provision of these communication cords to £500. The section also extends its application to all passenger trains so as to bring the legislation into line with existing CIE practice.
Section 11, which provides for arrest without warrant, was introduced because the absence of these powers was hindering intervention by the Garda in the interest of enforcement. This provision was not in the Bill as originally drafted but was introduced as an amendment in Dáil Éireann in the light of representations by Deputies during that debate. The penalty provisions in the Bill are necessary in the interest of facilitating Iarnród Éireann to carry out their responsibilities of safe and efficient transport in an effective manner.
No discussion of legislative measures in relation to CIE would be complete without some account of the general state of affairs of the board and their subsidiaries. The most recent comprehensive report on the affairs of CIE is the board's annual report and accounts for 1986 which were presented to the Houses of the Oireachtas on 8 October 1987. The result shows that for 1986 there was a net profit of £3.648 million before exceptional items such as those of a non-recurring nature. This took account of Exchequer subvention payments totalling almost £117 million.
The railway subvention at £93.326 million continues to represent a huge cost to the Exchequer although the company recorded a profit of £2.925 million during the year. Other figures of note for 1986 were: total railway passenger journeys increased by 8 per cent to a record 21.7 million, with DART accounting for just over 13 million; passenger journeys on provincial bus services increased by 3.8 per cent, and the Dublin city services passenger journeys increased 2 per cent to 165 million. Despite CIE's best efforts,  rail freight tonnage dropped during 1986 by 7.5 per cent in comparison with the 1985 figure to 3.126 million tonnes. The road freight results showed a profit of £324,000, compared to a profit of £195,000 in 1985.
Overall, the board had a good year in 1986 and this represented a continuation of the progress of recent years. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the chairman of CIE, the board, the management and the whole CIE workforce for their performance. It demonstrates continuing efforts in the board's various sectors for increasing revenue and providing cost effective and efficient transport responding to passengers' needs. The level of Exchequer support required for CIE is still very high and there is a need to reduce it further.
In February 1987 the three new CIE subsidiaries, Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, commenced operations. The smoothness of the changeover to the new structures has been remarkable. The board's report for 1987 will present, for the first time, the results under the new structures.
The board's activities got off to a good start at the beginning of the year by achieving their budgetary objectives. More recently, however, there have been downward trends in the operating results against budget. This is a cause for concern. I know, and most other Members of the House know, that CIE are making every effort to correct that situation and I hope their efforts will be rewarded. I believe CIE have the potential to continue to improve their overall financial position but they will not do so without hard work and responsible attitudes throughout the organisation.
An item which seems to have a recurring adverse effect on CIE are the localised labour disputes of doubtful merit which arise from time to time. These interruptions to services are usually limited in scope but they are sources of major annoyance and inconvenience to the CIE customers who are affected. They tend to draw public odium on the whole of  CIE. That is very unfair to the vast majority of CIE employees. It is a great pity that in these situations the minority becomes newsworthy, while those in CIE who continue to serve the public remain unsung and get no comment for their efforts.
The Government are tackling the serious difficulties confronting the economy. I indicated earlier but it has to be repeated in case anybody is losing sight of it. At a time when the general economy is going through a period of difficulty, the transport sector is as vulnerable as any other, and the CIE organisation have to face up to the challenges confronting them. Success cannot be achieved without the active support of all CIE employees giving of their best. The employees' own futures cannot be divorced from that of the organisation.
Over recent years the CIE rail carriage fleet and bus fleets have been upgraded and CIE customers have experienced the value of these developments. Most of the mainline rail routes have now modern carriages, very recent additions being those introduced on the Dublin-Westport and Dublin-Rosslare routes. Iarnród Éireann are modifying their carriage-building programme in order to improve the quality of services on radial and outer suburban routes. The first of these carriages will be available next year. The renewal of the provincial bus fleet was completed in 1986 and 50 new luxury coaches for use on the Supabus and Expressway routes and by the tours division were acquired. The Dublin bus fleet has also been improved over recent years, but quite a lot remains to be done as anybody who uses that service will readily realise.
From media coverage it is quite clear that the general image of CIE as a commercial organisation has also been changing. The improved profile which the CIE group have achieved through better marketing of their services and better use of resources is very evident. We have the special DART events, including the cultural links with the theatre and poetry, the special Killarney weekend packages  for visitors travelling from Dublin by rail. I personally had the privilege of attending recently the “Showtime Express” as it is known. Not alone are CIE to be complimented on the inauguration of that service but so also are the business people and hoteliers in Killarney, whose initiative was responded to by the people of Dublin simply because they were getting value for money. That exercise in itself is a clear indication to CIE that with a little bit of marketing, and initiative they could improve their service, as has been achieved by the “Showtime Express” to Killarney. Indeed a similar service could be run on other routes to the west and all over the country. This would improve the image, competitiveness, and financial resources of the company.
While the venture was prompted from outside CIE, we must acknowledge that CIE's response indicates that there is a new and a clear effort by the board and the company to achieve greater profitability and greater success. They are improving the product and making strenuous efforts to attract more customers and so improve the utilisation of the rail and road fleets with obvious consequences for the organisation's revenues. These efforts and innovations in CIE reflect a customer-orientated approach which deserves to succeed and will do so.
CIE's role in the tourist industry is a major one. Not only are they engaged in selling abroad Irish holidays and in providing transport services and tours for holidaymakers in Ireland, but they are also responsible for Rosslare Harbour, one of our international gateways and the major sea access point from continental Europe. First-class access transport and facilities for visitors at the points of entry are essential for a further growth in the number of visitors coming to spend their holidays among us.
CIE have been working for a number of years on upgrading the facilities at Rosslare Harbour. A major part of the development plan for the harbour is finished and next year when the new passenger terminal is completed we will have  at Rosslare a product of the highest international standards with quality for visitors. These are so necessary to remove for our visitors some of the frustrations which cannot but damage our image as a friendly and concerned people and to create the most favourable impression possible on our visitors as they arrive. As the old sean-fhocal says “your front door creates the first impression, and first impressions are lasting”.
In summary, I have explained the background to the Bill and its provisions. I have outlined for the House the progress which CIE have made in recent years and touched on some of the problems facing the organisation. I am heartened by what has been achieved but recognise that there are still many challenges facing the board and their subsidiaries. If Senators have questions arising from the issues raised in the Bill I will endeavour to answer them.
The financial performance of CIE over the past three years inspires some confidence and I know that under the leadership of the chairman and board of CIE every effort will be made to achieve the targets set by Government.
In conclusion, I recommend the Bill to the House.
Mr. Bradford Mr. Bradford
Mr. Bradford: As the Minister has stated earlier in the course of his speech, the purpose of this Bill is to allow CIE to discharge their present obligation to repay to the Exchequer capital advances of approximately £44 million, to enable the board to borrow up to another £45 million on a long term basis to meet their obligations and carry out their duties, to allow the board the option of selling by tender property linked to abandoned railway lines, and to increase the levels of penalties for various offences in relation to the railways. The Minister also referred to the new section which provides for arrest without warrant. I will comment on that section later. The Bill offers an opportunity to make some points in general about CIE and the whole question of public transport systems today.
It must be said that when the public  hear of a debt of £45 million owed by CIE being written off and that they will be allowed to borrow further, they will not be surprised. There is a general public perception that CIE as a State institution has been, and still is, rather costly and in many cases inefficient. Unfortunately from time to time CIE actually seemed committed to proving the theory that State companies would be continual loss-makers but perhaps that is part of the past rather than the present. This perception results from years of bad financial reports emanating from CIE. CIE presented an image in many cases of a strike-bound, unhappy company. The overall view was that CIE's approach was not geared to meet the needs of today's commuters in an effective, cost efficient, reliable and punctual fashion. Against this background any discussions which we will have on CIE, or any new proposals or legislation regarding them, must be geared towards ensuring an improved overall service to the public.
Neither can we allow to go unconsidered the question of private bus services, the setting up of which in some areas has been met with total public support. It also has resulted, not surprisingly in opposition and counter reaction by CIE, as the company were then known. All of us would agree with the old saying that competition is the spice of life and, indeed, it is certainly the spice of efficiency within life and business. It is foolish to suggest or even think that any company engaged in any area of activity can totally fetter any opposition to it and, at the same time, remain effective and efficient and have full knowledge of what the public are demanding. If you shut off the competition you are not fully aware of the public's demands.
Unfortunately, for many people the word “privatisation” leaves a bad taste in their mouth and once you start discussing anything such as private bus operations you hear shouts and screams from many sectors. We do not claim to be, and fortunately I would say, we do not aspire to a socialist state, yet we have a plethora of rules, regulations and red tape in many  areas which would do justice to many a socialist state. It is interesting and ironic that at a time when some of the so-called classical socialist states such as the Soviet Union and China are bending over backwards to remove some of the many layers of red tape binding up many of their industries, having realised they had not worked efficiently, we are not so willing to look at new methods of doing business. I hope we will not take as long as they took to realise some of our mistakes and rectify them.
At the same time, I would like to make it clear that I am not making this speech here tonight as a major speech in favour of any sort of privatisation because I envisage a major role for public transport. However, we must ensure that side by side with public transport there is a certain controlled and planned level of private initiative allowed. It will benefit us all. Take for instance, the private bus services which run on a regular basis to Dublin, in particular , from many of the provincial towns and cities. For many years nobody but CIE provided a bus service which was, unfortunately, expensive and under-used. Then with private operators providing a cheap regular service, the public reacted and welcomed this service with open arms. They use it. We were fortunate that CIE reacted to this by improving their service in many areas and by matching the competition £ for £. In the long run everybody benefited as a result.
This sort of development can only be good for the economy. In those circumstances the people — the commuters — voted with their feet and they voted for their pockets. They seemed to accept that the private bus services provided a good service and we cannot disregard the wishes of those people. The more people we encourage to travel by public transport, by train, or by bus, regardless of who runs these services, the better. In these days of pollution, lead pollution fumes from traffic, with poor and deteriorating road surfaces and a high danger level on these roads, it does not just make  economic sense but, indeed, commonsense to encourage the greatest possible utilisation of public transport. However, in order to ensure that the utilisation of public transport increases at a steady level, as we would hope, it is vital that reliable, punctual and economic services are provided. Unfortunately these conditions will only be met where at least some degree of competition exists.
As the Minister mentioned in his speech, you cannot gloss over the social aspect of public transport as it operates at present. In fairness to the three companies that exist at present, this service is being provided by them on bus and train routes and other companies would find some of these routes quite uneconomic. Because of this we must ensure that anybody who tries to milk the system by removing from CIE the cream of the routes must also bear some responsibility for the rather sourer cream. It must be accepted that some of the losses for which CIE became infamous resulted from the social aspect of their service. As it is vital that these services should continue so also it is vital that we accept the losses which will accrue from them.
This does not allow us to fool ourselves into believing we can accept losses of millions of pounds year in, year out in the State transport services. These losses must be examined and we must ensure that any loopholes which exist are tightened up and that these services are run in the most effective and efficient way possible. There are ways, however, in which CIE's present services can be improved and streamlined to help the public in general. The whole question of their fares policy needs immediate attention and, in particular, this comment would apply to Iarnród Éireann as it is now called. At present train fares are unjustly high and are the biggest disincentive to train travel.
Surely it is time the simple economic reality of more people being prepared to travel when costs are low should be brought home to this company. I know some improvements have taken place but, unfortunately, these improvements are restricted to such areas as one day  special tickets, bargain days, group and family rates etc. In itself this is good but what needs to be done now is to introduce a general reduction in ordinary fares. The present fares have too many anomalies. Why, for instance, is a family ticket for a family of five or six sometimes cheaper than a ticket for a husband and wife? Why are single fares not sold at what you would expect, half or nearly half the normal fare? In that respect I must mention that the single fare between Mallow and Dublin is £23 which is the same as a day return fare. That is very much open to a charge of being incorrect. It does nothing to promote the utilisation of public transport to have that sort of fare system in operation.
I would hope the whole policy on fares will be addressed by the Minister as soon as possible. The present policy seems to be based on the assumption that the numbers travelling by public transport will not change and, therefore, that rising costs must be met by raising the cost of travel. Surely this train of thought must be altered. Let us aim to reduce the unit cost of travel not just by gimmickry but by plain and simple fare reduction and a new powerful campaign of public transport promotion. When the fares charged are seen to be fair, the benefit will quickly accrue to the transport companies. This was never more clearly evident than on days of major GAA and soccer matches and, indeed, sporting events when the public react wholeheartedly to economic fares.
There must also be a greater willingness on the part of Iarnród Éireann to allow flexibility on their routes. For instance, in my own constituency one of the most popular and most important train routes was a late night service serving Mallow from Cork. It was used especially by students and by people who were working late at night in Cork. The service was provided simply by the addition to the mail train of the passenger carriage. Yet CIE decided it was no longer necessary and decided to take off the passenger carriage from the mail train. Even though the mail train still runs night in, night out, the passenger  carriage is not available for the public to travel. That does not make any economic sense whatsoever and it certainly does nothing to increase public confidence in our public transport company, CIE.
With regard to the social aspect of the service offered by the three constituent companies of CIE while we accept that the social role must continue, new ideas and initiatives can help these routes not just to continue but to prosper. Surely some thought must go into the idea of providing smaller and more economic buses in country areas? To see a 50-seater bus travelling around the roads of the west and other peripheral areas with three or four passengers does nothing to increase your confidence in the way the service is being run. With new technology available on a daily basis we should aim for a special type of bus to service the rural areas. The point has been made validly from time to time that there should be some thought given to using the buses from the school transport service in conjunction with CIE to provide services to rural areas. This idea will be knocked on the head now, especially as the school transport system is under such pressure, but at least it was an idea which should have got more consideration that it did.
Yesterday evening I spoke with people involved in An Post and I questioned them on the idea of the joint postal bus service, an idea which has been mentioned from time to time. I was informed that there is a joint venture bus in operation on one route in County Clare and it is reported to be working quite successfully. This joint An Post-Bus Éireann type service is popular and prevalent in many areas throughout continental Europe. This is something we should consider for some rural areas. It would help provide two services in the most economic way possible.
We are fortunate that the Minister is also responsible for tourism. He mentioned in his speech that CIE play an important role in the tourist industry. That was noted by the Price Waterhouse group in their report on tourism. They indicated that there was a failure by our  public transport industry to aid in any proper fashion the important tourist industry. I agree with them in that respect and hope that this failure will be recognised publicly and reversed.
It must be said in fairness to CIE that at present they operate a popular and good value system of bus touring holidays throughout the country which is used, in particular, by middle-aged and elderly people and indeed to a lesser extent by some of the younger people, who find it quite good. There is a glaring lack of effort to encourage the tens of thousands of young people who trek throughout Europe on the cheap rail and bus system to use the buses and trains in Ireland. We would be ideally suited to this market so we should encourage young people to come to Ireland by letting them know that we have a bus and train service that would be suitable for their needs. It could transport them from point A to point B cheaply and reliably. I would hope this point will be considered. However, in order to ensure the success of any such service we would have to streamline further the rail and bus services from our airports and seaports. The present system is too haphazard. If you were trying to go from any of our ports — air or sea — inland and you had to depend totally on public transport you could run into the situation where a three or four hour journey by car could take a day. This is a pity because it does not assist the tourist industry as it should.
The Minister referred to the labour difficulties of CIE. I agree fully with his comments. He noted correctly that unfortunately it has always been the cause that a minority within the CIE group have been giving the company a bad name and image and as a result of this many peole have lost faith in public transport. We have reached a stage that when a strike is called by any of the three transport companies, people in general are no longer surprised. They just ask how long it will last. When you reach this stage you know that the situation has deteriorated beyond all acceptable levels. I hope we will see no more of these wildcat strikes and that the people  involved will be more mature in their deliberations and more careful in calling for industrial action. The public transport system and the economy have lost too much as a result of it and, in addition, CIE's whole image has fallen too far because of it.
Section 5 relates to the selling of abandoned railway lines by public tender. I wonder why this section is included in the Bill? If am not concerned about the section as such but I know from experience on the county council and from seeing houses and so on being sold by tender, that this is not a satisfactory situation. It was stated in the other House that the reasons for the section being before us is the fact that CIE found it difficult to sell by public auction small tracts of land adjoining abandoned railways. Changing over to public tender and allowing railways to be sold by public tender will not increase the attractiveness of the land. Neither will it increase the number of people interested in buying these parcels of land. It will only cause more confusion and add another layer of red tape to an already well bound up company.
The major disadvantage of the tendering system is that it is long drawn out and cumbersome. Also, you see at the end of every tender notice in the newspapers that the company usually reserve the right not to sell to the highest bidder and so on. You also have people coming back to the public representative and asking about the people who got these parcels of land and wondering whom they knew and whether they could have known somebody we did not know so the famous Irish word “pull” seems to come into it again and again. I am quite confident that this is not the case in any public body but I would be happier to see anything whether big or small being sold by public auction where everybody knows what everybody else is doing. Even if it was found more expensive to sell these small tracts of land by public auction I would rather it be done that way because it is a more upright, straightforward and open manner of doing things.
 Section 7 of the Bill increases the penalty for trespassing on a railway to a fine not exceeding £300 and/or three months imprisonment. The maximum fine at present is £2. The provisions of the new section 11 would apply basically to this section because up to now the Garda had no power whatsoever to do anything with people found wandering on railway lines. Under the new section 11, they will now have the power to arrest without warrant. This will help the situation.
It is unfortunate that children are allowed by their parents to use railway lines as playgrounds. From time to time we hear of the tragic consequences of this. I know that these children are warned, probably on a daily basis, of the dangers of wandering on these lines but unfortunately in many cases it seems to be of no avail. Obviously we cannot find a perfect system to fence off these lines fully. While these railway lines exist we will have a certain degree of trespass on them. However, it is proper that action is being taken to ensure that trespassing will be at a minimum.
In general the people we are speaking about as trespassers on railway lines are from the younger generation but I am sure the fines are directed at adults who, for one reason or another, were trespassing on the railway lines. Something which is lacking at present is a publicity campaign on the danger of trespassing on railway lines. Down through the years there was not much publicity in any of the newspapers, on television or radio about the dangers of trespassing on the lands owned by the Department of Defence or any place where firing lines existed. We have had one or two major tragedies. We see, perhaps not on a weekly basis, but certainly on a monthly basis on television and radio, advertisements placed by the Department of Defence warning people to stay off these Army lands. It would be helpful if the Department of Tourism and Transport would consider advertising on all sections of the media the danger of trespassing on railway lines. Somebody might take note and it might help to save somebody's life. It would not be too expensive and, in the  long run, it should be beneficial in some way.
Section 10 is designed to increase the penalty for the avoidance of payment of fares. I welcome that section as I am sure everybody else does because it is disappointing to see a certain percentage of people continually trying to avoid payment on both bus and train. One does not have to travel too often to note somebody trying to avoid paying for the service. There are times when people who travel on trains or buses genuinely find it difficult to pay the fare. Many of the people to whom I am referring could well afford to pay. It is no harm that this new provision is introduced. It was quite ridiculous that the old fine, which was far less than even the cheapest train fare, was an incentive to break the law. I am not sure what powers the Garda have in their dealings with such people.
I saw two young fellows being pulled by the ears out of a certain railway station one day by a garda. He had one in each hand. They were screaming and roaring and I do not think they will try the same trick again. They refused to give their names to the CIE official on the train who found they were travelling free of charge throughout the State. Whether CIE were trying to give them a sharp shock, or whether it was the done thing to call in the gardaí in cases where people refused to give their names, I am not sure, perhaps the Minister would clarify that.
I have little more to contribute to this Bill. One could speak for ever on the transport question in general. In fairness, the Bill is not designed to allow us to present a thesis on public transport. I support the overall thrust of the Bill. There are a few points that I will raise on Committee Stage. In general I welcome the Bill and I add my support to the Minister's comments that it should be accepted by the House.
Professor Hillery Professor Hillery
Professor Hillery: CIE as the main internal transport system touches the lives of many people in this country. As a company they are particularly relevant to  Members of the Oireachtas because they are subsidised to the tune of over £100 million per year. The company have made some progress and I think that should be acknowledged, but they have a long way to go. For many decades in the past, stretching way back into the last century, railways formed the basis of the transport system. Today, however, CIE have only a very small proportion of the total market for both passenger and freight services. Cars and other forms of private transportation have put railways, in particular, in a very difficult financial position.
Turning briefly to the financial position of CIE, the Bill makes it possible for new financial arrangements to be put in place where CIE can, from this forward, plan their finances. They will be expected to repay the borrowings from their own resources. There is good and bad in the financial results for 1986. The railways continue to be huge loss makers. A figure of over £93 million was lost in 1986 as pointed out in the Minister's opening remarks. It has to be said, however, that there is an important social dimension to the railway activities and therefore there are, of course, parts of the railway system that are uneconomic and have to be so. Nonetheless, it is more essential than ever for the railway end to redouble their efforts to increase traffic and try to meet the target that has been set for them of reducing their loss by 20 per cent over the next five years. On the plus side the railways, in 1986, showed an increase in business of 8 per cent and that is to be welcomed. Furthermore, anybody who travels on railways can only welcome and be heartened by the refurbishment and replacement of carriages. A general upgrading is taking place which is important to domestic traffic and, of course, to tourism in particular.
Bus Átha Cliath have been set the financial target of halving their 1984 deficit. Passenger journeys increased by 2 per cent in 1986. I wonder what the trend is in 1987? I notice from the current discussion that there has been a fall off in passengers and that has been a source of worry and a further pressure for the  rationalisation that is now proposed by the management in the Dublin bus service.
In the context of industrial relations I will return to the Dublin city services. The aim is to make Bus Éireann, or the provincial bus services, profitable. Again they show an increase in that category of 3.8 per cent in 1986 and that too is to be welcomed even though it underlines the need for a greater growth there too. Overall the financial position of the company is that it is still very serious but there are some promising signs that we can be heartened about. I note that there is a continuing arrangement for the Minister for Finance to guarantee the borrowings of CIE. I have been a member of successive Joint Committees on Commercial State-Sponsored Bodies where the recurring issue has been the question of State guarantees for borrowings. The fact is that CIE are not alone in having a State guarantee; there are hundreds of millions of pounds of borrowing in the commercial State-sponsored body sector that are guaranteed by the State.
From the lending institution viewpoint the State guarantee is regarded as first class security. I wonder whether lending institutions lend on the basis of the guarantee without applying the same rigorous evaluation that would apply to a loan proposal from a private sector company. Where possible the State should disengage from guarantees and let loan applications from the commercial semi-State bodies stand on their own merits. Short of that I urge that if a State guarantee is sought by a bank, the reasons for the guarantee requirement should be submitted to the relevant Department for their consideration. If the Department feel that a guarantee should be given, it should be for a specific period, renewable if necessary.
Following the Minister's invitation to raise specific questions in the case of CIE I would welcome hearing what monitoring arrangements are made by the Department in relation to State guarantees. Are the reasons for the continued need for borrowing, and indeed the items  that require the borrowing, actually spelled out from the Department and approved at that level? Furthermore, I am personally keen that time limits should be set on guarantees before their renewal. Again I wonder in the case of CIE whether there is any such arrangement along these lines.
I now want to turn to the strike record of CIE. The Minister quite rightly refers to the strikes in the Dublin city services and while only one section of the company is involved it gives CIE as a whole a bad name. Having said that, the inescapable reality is that CIE have in fact, the worst strike record of all the commercial semi-State bodies. In my own department in UCD we have a major research project on strikes and I must say with regret that CIE come out top of the league for the commercial semi-state bodies. I would qualify it however, underlining what the Minister has said, by saying that the rail service and the provincial bus services are relatively strike free. The problem is really focused on the Dublin city services. Again, as the Minister has said, these bus strikes mean financial loss for the company, which is obviously important in the times in which we live, especially now. The whole of CIE then tend to be tarred with the same brush which is rather unfair to the railway side of the business and the provincial bus services.
We live in difficult times. The need for value for money was never more urgent. The need for cost-effectiveness and efficiency are of paramount importance. It is a fact that in many companies operating in this country there is considerable change in industrial relations policy and practice reflecting the pressures of the time. The recession, of course, has brought about a greater need for imaginative ways of holding onto business, and if at all possible increasing it. The recession has also had a severe impact on trade union membership. For example, in the years 1980 to 1985 there has been a 9 per cent drop in trade union membership in the country, with a total loss of 51,000 members in the Republic in that period.
There is further pressure on the trade  unions now to search jointly with management for ways of preserving jobs and achieving progress. It is in the interest of both sides to find the way forward to achieve the common objective of maintaining jobs and achieving prosperity. Furthermore, of course, there is a greater realism now in claims submitted by trade unions. The link between the claims of trade unions and job security is now very clear compared to the growth days of the sixties and the seventies. We are living in a new world in the late eighties. The management for their part need to shake things up, too. There is a need for them to be progressive and active in their policies rather than react to circumstances as they arise which characterised management practice for too long.
The management must work hard at achieving employee commitment rather than relying on authoritarian ways of the past. There is an ever-increasing need for more emphasis on customer service. The Minister rightly gave credit to CIE for their marketing efforts and the attempts they are now making to give a better deal to the customer. The response of management and trade unions that I referred to has gone quite some distance in the private sector, and indeed in certain cases in the public sector. I am glad to be able to single out a commerical State, Aer Rianta, who are conspicious for the quality of their management style, for their genuine commitment to participate in structures and to give full consideration to customer service. Being in the public sector is no handicap in achieving a better quality of management, and indeed a better quality of trade union leadership and behaviour.
I want to refer briefly to the question of private sector involvement in CIE. My personal view on privatisation is that there is no room for ideological hang-ups of any sort in the difficult times of the eighties and it looks as if it will be tough enough in the years ahead. That leads me, in turn, to perhaps partial privatisation of some of CIE's services. The bus services and the freight services obviously spring to mind in that regard. The  introduction of some competition would make for a healthy change and should lead to improved efficiency. Private ownership of the services, or some of them, will have a favourable effect on two critical factors, namely, prices and service. There is clear evidence available that privately run freight and passenger services at present are able to offer lower prices than CIE. We have an important precedent also in the transport field.
The introduction of Ryanair to the aviation scene is a very important development. Aer Lingus, British Airways, Air France and so on, the major national carriers, had as their top criterion in the airline business service to the customer, not low cost. The arrival of Ryanair on the scene here has made a dramatic impact with its low cost strategy. It has shaken up the competition, it has brought down prices by the national carrier but, much more important, it has led to a bigger market providing a cheaper product. Knock Airport and its activities is a case in point, an untapped market which has now been made possible through a low cost strategy and good marketing.
On the question of service, there are indications that job satisfaction and morale are lacking among CIE employees. I suggest that some privatisation would provide a new deal for transport. It would lead to a more efficient and cheaper service and, as in the case of the airlines, it would lead to a bigger market share that would follow upon a more efficient and cheaper service which should lead to the preservation of jobs, often a very big fear in the case of the introduction of competition.
Given the background of a shortage of State funds, and the Minister has underlined that, several countries abroad are moving towards privatisation of public transport. Germany and the Netherlands readily come to mind in this respect. As I said already, competition would follow private ownership of some of the transport. This would mean that competitors would keep on their toes. It would also mean that these competitors would have an intimate knowledge, of the markets which they serve and, more important,  it would mean that administrative costs would be saved because large bureaucracies would be reduced, if not avoided altogether.
I now want to turn in the privatisation context to the question of school buses. At present a substantial number of school buses is in private hands. CIE's school bus fleet is coping with a certain amount of competition. I mentioned the Joint Committee on Commercial State-Sponsored Bodies of which I have been a member for some time. An earlier committee in 1979 had the following to say on the issue of school transport:
...it would be right for the unions concerned to accept the Labour Court recommendations on the use of school buses for other purposes so that private drivers can use them part time for private hire...
The report of the joint committee goes on to state:
unless this is done the Government should adopt a general policy of transferring school services to the private sector where there is an operator wishing to provide such a service and where established needs are not being met.
I am aware there is a number of pilot schemes underway under the auspices of school management committees and I would be interested in any comment the Minister could make on that in the course of his reply.
To conclude this very brief contribution, I think putting the customer first is a key criterion for the future of CIE. Perhaps I could make another suggestion in that regard? I wonder whether railway stations and bus stations are being fully utilised in this sense: thousands of people pass through bus and railway stations often with some time to spare; is there a case for the expansion of services within these properties? From CIE's viewpoint they might either own them or lease them. I am thinking in particular of gift shops, clothing shops and perhaps a variety of other activities that might be housed within CIE property where the waiting passengers could do  some shopping. In other countries hospitals are providing such services now, not to mention railway stations to capture business that is passing through in the course of using the transport system.
In conclusion I would like to compliment CIE. It is important that we should give credit where it is due. I think the board, the management and the workforce are trying hard and there has been some progress to date. It is imperative for the future that all — board, management and workers — continue to meet the huge challenges ahead on a joint basis. Joint co-operation, with the dominant focus on customer needs, surely must be the way forward for CIE.
Mr. Cassidy Mr. Cassidy
Mr. Cassidy: I will make a brief contribution. I welcome the Bill. Senator Hillery made a magnificent contribution. He covered the various areas and the various aspects which I was more or less thinking about. In relation to services at stations there is an enormous potential. Aer Rianta have proved it. Many saw it in the newspapers today and the results in the Dáil yesterday. There is enormous potential in most of those stations where hundreds and thousands of passengers are waiting. Facilities are not being made available at those stations. Valuable property and valuable centrepieces in most of our towns and cities could be put to better use.
I congratulate Senator Hillery on his magnificent contribution on this Bill. We all know that the purpose of the Bill is to discharge the obligation of CIE to repay to the Exchequer capital advances in excess of £44.5 million and to enable the board to borrow up to £45 million on a long term basis to meet their obligations and carry out their duties. It allows the board the option of selling by tender property linked to abandoned railway lines. That is a very good idea. While our colleague on the other side of the House did not agree with that, the tender aspect gives them an extra option and it should be welcomed.
It also enables CIE to increase the level of penalties for various offences in relation to railways. We all know that  legislation catches up with itself in time and that penalties have to be updated. This is a clause that must be welcomed and it will empower CIE to have greater control. It is all about control and respect for property as well as for those who are using the services given by CIE. Finally it provides for the arrest without warrant by the Garda in respect of certain offences. Up to now, as we are all aware, the Garda had to be called on most occasions but now they can go in and pursue anyone who is abusing railway lines or anything in connection with the affairs or property of CIE.
Every politician likes to look at Second Stage and see where he can make a short contribution on behalf of his local constituency or local county. In the context of outlying provincial services, such as Mullingar or Athlone, we are conscious that the objectives of the train service are to bring business to the area by providing a commuter service to the busier eastern region and also so that people who choose to live in say, Westmeath, and commute to Dublin to work can do so. In the last year or so we have experienced vast interest arising from the eastern plan in relation to the expected population increase in the Dublin and eastern region. In the context of such an uncontrollable expansion in population in this region, apparently at the expense of the rest of the country, it is important that the rest of the country at least should have an opportunity to link into this dynamism in the eastern region by having the very best commuter service. We all know how successful the DART was in the city. This is where we in Westmeath got the idea. As Mullingar is only 45 miles from Dublin, 20 miles of which are on the border of Dublin, there are hundreds of people commuting every day by motor car. Hundreds more would live at home in Westmeath and use the train every morning and evening if it was available. In that context I ask the Minister to lend his weight to the project we are pursuing in Westmeath at present.
In the context, let us say, of the Custom House Docks site, many people in  Westmeath would be interested in taking up employment there either on the construction, or on the permanent side when the project is up and going. It is feasible to contemplate living in Mullingar and travelling to Dublin by commuter train. When the Minister sees the various facilities and the beautiful relaxed atmosphere and clean air in that part of the capital of the midlands, he will understand why I am appealing to him to give it the necessary consideration.
In relation to the tourism aspect of the train, Dublin for long has been looking to Wicklow as a place to which people might take a trip. With Dublin's expanding population and clogged roads Westmeath's beautiful lake area can and does increasingly provide people in Dublin with the opportunity for a day trip, not perhaps for the same reasons as one might go to Wicklow. Nevertheless one can enjoy the fabulous water sports and angling facilities in the county, not to speak of the golfing facilities and the other various amenities of which long term membership would be impossible to obtain in the city. We have all those facilities within an hour's drive, or perhaps less than an hour's drive, from the capital, depending on which side of the city you might be working or living in.
I pay a great tribute to the local newspapers in the area which are using their space to advertise to the public that there is a possibility of ensuring a cheap and efficient transport system into and out of the area. In relation to telecommunications in the eastern region, and right into a large area of Mullingar we have the facilities of radio phone contact right through the country. I have taken the initiative to suggest to Irish Rail that we would welcome a commitment from them to investigate whether radio phone facilities, Eircall or Eirpage connection by phone could be installed in the trains. This would be a remarkable advantage for train travel and it would also give us a tremendous advantage over road travel. The rail facilities at present are run on the basis of a costly social service. If we have more people using the trains we can be assured that the train service  will continue with all its attendant advantages and spin off facilities.
I would like to finish by saying that, for the business community — and anyone who knows how long it takes to get to Dublin every day by, car — the phone service on a train would be a tremendous advantage. I ask the Minister investigate it. As I know we have many more speakers, I will conclude, by saying I welcome the Bill and hope it has a safe and fast passage through the House tonight.
Mr. McKenna Mr. McKenna
Mr. McKenna: I welcome the Bill and take the opportunity very briefly to pass a few comments on it. First, to take up a point made by Senator Hillery concerning strikes in CIE, I fully agree with and reiterate the sentiments expressed by him. It is absolutely deplorable that one individual can hold the rest of the company to ransom. It is something of which the unions within CIE should take very serious note. Senator Bradford referred to prices and I agree with him on that point. From my own experience of travelling from Nenagh to Dublin, a single journey costs £9; but if an individual wished to go down on a single journey from Dublin it would cost him £16. There are many people who, for one reason or another, cannot make the return journey. They may be up on business for a couple of days, or something like that. I know quite a number of people who would use the service if the price of a single fare was economical and within reason. The alternative is to take one of the private buses referred to here earlier.
Perhaps I could be parochial for a minute as this is an opportune time to be parochial. I would like to mention one specific area about which I have already made representations and it is important to highlight the facility here. Senator Hillery said the customer must have priority. The Minister mentioned responsibility for tourism. I come from one of the most scenic areas in the country. It stretches from Lorrha up to Killaloe; it is on the shores of Lough Derg and has fantastic potential as a tourist attraction.
The train service between Limerick and Dublin is a complicated system. The  station we used is Cloughjordan. For some years there has been no ticket station at Cloughjordan and passengers get their tickets on the train. That is not the problem. This area was very well serviced at one time and used by quite a number of passengers. In fact, it was a place of great sadness and of great joy with people emigrating and people returning. There is a commuter train between Limerick and Ballybrophy. People using the service between Limerick and Ballybrophy — that would include Birdhill, Nenagh, Cloughjordan, Roscrea and Ballybrophy — connect to a Cork train, an inter-city train. That is fine in the morning because all the facilities are available on the train when you change at Ballybrophy. Anyone who wishes can have a meal or a drink at the bar.
The difficulty is the return journey from Dublin. It strikes me as most peculiar that on Platform 3 and Platform 4 there are two trains one leaving for Thurles which ultimately arrives into Limerick and the other one leaving for Limerick. Senator Cassidy mentioned the question of having telephones installed on a particular service. The difficulty we have is that on the Ballybrophy service, where there is connection with the commuter train through to Limerick, there are absolutely no facilities available in the evening time. This was not always the case. Heretofore trains serving this area had all the facilities and amenities that were provided in other trains.
Representations have been made to me on a number of occasions to see if something could be done about it because far more people would use the trains if proper amenities were available on the line. I ask the Minister to take up that issue with CIE. One train leaves at 5.40 and the other leaves at 5.45. The only difference between the two is that the inter city train, which is the modern up to date train, does not stop at Ballybrophy. All we are asking is that the inter city train should stop at Ballybrophy. I have used the train on a number of occasions.
 The train that we use, once the passengers alight at Ballybrophy, is almost empty from there on. It seems to me to be most peculiar to have two trains going within minutes of each other. That is very false economy. I cannot see why the inter city facility could not be made available to the people who travel through Cloughjordan, Nenagh, Roscrea and Birdhill. There was a time, not that long ago, when we had a full service right through to Dublin. Changes were made for a number of reasons. There was a fall off in the number of passengers and that sort of thing. Of late the number of people using the passenger service has increased by 8 per cent. If proper facilities were made available the increase would be greater.
To be parochial again, there is a pedestrian bridge in Ballybrophy which is from the iron age. The steepness of that bridge is deplorable and old people or people who are infirm in any way just cannot use it. It is impossible. In the winter time particularly the iron steps are very slippery and hazardous. I know of quite a number of people who now cross the track rather than use the pedestrian bridge. That is a terrible situation. It does nothing to encourage people to use the train service. I would ask the Minister to take up that point.
I am pleased that the legislation proposes to increase the fines for all sorts of vandalism to trains. I was using the train a couple of weeks ago when two of the windows on one carriage were shattered by stones. It is dreadful. I do not think any penalty is severe enough for people who would indulge in that type of vandalism. I welcome the Bill. I give it my full support and I would hope that the Minister would take the few points I have made into consideration.
Mr. Robb Mr. Robb
Mr. Robb: I am glad to have an opportunity to make what I hope will be a short contribution. I have been very interested in listening to Senators Bradford, Hillery, Cassidy and McKenna. There are a number of things that I would like to mention. First of all, there is the social  obligation. One of the dangers when you move from a public form of utility into privatisation, particularly where the morale is not high in the semi-State body or the public body, the best people will leave the State organised service to move into the private sector so that what may be a slightly rocky service becomes even worse. The first thing we must be absolutely clear about is whether we want an efficient public service with State obligation to that service for certain essential aspects. Some of these have been identified: schools, rural areas and hospitals. We have even heard the suggestion from Senator Hillery that perhaps schools are more appropriate for privatisation, whereas other Senators would have felt that in this area the State should have the prime responsibility.
Before moving into the debate between privatisation and public ownership I would like to make one suggestion. There has been quite a lot of discussion here today about the need to bring management and workers together and indeed there has been considerable praise for those areas of CIE where this has been achieved.
Senator Hillery extended this to bringing the board, the management and the workers into a joint co-operative enterprise. One very important element has been left out of this, that is, the consumer. I have recently been experimenting in the hospital field trying to bring hospital workers, the consumers who use the hospital and, for want of a better word, those who might be seen as the board, the State institutional aspect, together in tripartite co-operation. If one focuses on board management and workers only centrally where the organisation of a giant corporation or a giant enterprise takes place, one misses the whole point of the involvement of these three dimensions. What I suggest is that it is time throughout Ireland in the field of transport, as in so many fields, that we try, where possible, to bring together these three dimensions locally in order to take on board suggestions which could be made by the consumer and also to help those who are operating the service to  appreciate that they are giving a service which is valued if it is provided with goodwill and in a good spirit and efficiently and to allow them to point out to the consumer the difficulties which they face, be it in security, in relation to their future or insufficient job satisfaction.
One has to try to think of novel ideas for bringing the consumer into the debate and also about how this could be effected locally as well as at national level. Much has been made about the need to coordinate the transport service better. I would agree with that. In this day and age with all the potential of data processing and organising programmes and computers it should be possible, if one sees the central office of whatever transport system evolves as a co-ordinating centre rather than a controlling centre, to arrange for a much better dovetailing of all the services throughout the country be they on the waterways, airways, roadways or railways.
In that context, when the new Belfast city hospital was built one of the novel arrangements which has been developed is the hospital railway station beside it. We are now trying to overcome a long standing problem in North Antrim in the triangle area of Portrush, Portstewart and Coleraine where there was very destructive competition between two hospitals. We are trying to interest the powers that be in building a new hospital to replace the two old ones and we have been thinking that the best site for it would be near the railway line. That has potential in relation to the revenue that would accrue to the railway service.
There is a great need to look at co-ordination and to involve the people who use the service and to involve people at local level. There may be some scope for reintroducing what was once very important, pride in the local station. A national competition might be held in relation to population drainage for the station — obviously the population drainage in a small rural area would be very small and nearer to the cities it would be larger — as to how many people can be brought back to use the rail service and the bus service. When we are talking  about the use of these services one wants to try to target special types of passenger.
I speak with some feeling, as Senator McKenna did. When I set out by train from Ballymoney, I set out at 6 a.m. to go to Belfast by a rather circuitous route. I arrived just in time to catch the Enterprise and I reach Dublin and I get a taxi, If I want to go on to Cork it is another day's journey. What I am suggesting is, if we are talking about co-ordination, is it not time that we were able to get on the train in Derry in this island and reach Cork without necessarily getting off the train at all, but if we have to get off the train that some special facility should be arranged to move us between the two stations in Dublin and there should be much better dovetailing.
The train has a lot of attractions for people who are going to spend more than an hour travelling. It is much less stressful, it is much less tiring but as yet there are not the facilities about which Senator Cassidy talked to enable passengers to use the train for the preparation of a speech in Seanad Éireann or for the consideration of business. There is neither the quiet, the comfort nor the facilities. These are areas for special targeting but I do not think you will ever get those right until you engage the consumer and go out of your way to engage the consumer. We are not here to talk about community politics but I only raise that kite aloft for the Minister to consider.
In the Bill there is considerable attention being paid to what is to happen to disused railway lines. I would beg the Department before they dispose of those railway lines, to have some serious discussion with the tourist board because there is an enormous fascination in disused railway lines. To many people Ireland is the main road and very often the main road between Belfast and Dublin. It is only when you get into the side roads, into the trains, into the old disused track lines and down the canals that you begin to see the country. I beg the Minister to have discussion with the tourist board before he disposes of what he has and see if some imaginative planning could be done to make use of what  could be a potential tourist amenity even if it was only for bicycle tracks.
Having said that, I take up the point which Senator Bradford made in relation to tendering and auction. It must be, in the more open society which most people here would like to see evolving, open and when we are tendering we want to know that it is fair, we want to know that all those who have applied are getting fair consideration and that there are not special arrangements made to meet special people's needs unless a very good case can be made to substantiate them.
With regard to the problem of strikes, Senator Hillery made a distinction between the problems of Dublin Bus, the rail service and the provincial bus service. Strikes are a terrible source of irritation particularly to those who are immediately affected by them. We have to stop and ask what is the job satisfaction, what degree of communication is there, what invitation is there in a rather large corporation style of operation such as CIE for participation so that members of the workforce feel they have a right to say and that when they have a say they feel that what they say is being listened to and that there is a possibility of action and that their opinion will be given due consideration in this teamwork which has been identified between the management, the work-force and the consumer.
Morale cannot be high if you feel you are being controlled in some remote bureaucratic manner. It is time we got trust into our organisations. I do not see how we can get trust unless we revert to smaller units and unless we give those smaller units more opportunity to be flexible and more incentive through the sort of competition which I mentioned earlier.
Flexibility has been highlighted and I would agree entirely that in a transport system above all else we must be flexible in relation to times, penetration and meeting consumer needs and marketing for that need in such a way that it will attract the consumer back into the service which he knows in his heart he would  prefer if it was provided for him. No one can tell me that there is any pleasure in belting down the road for three hours from Ballymoney to turn around in Dublin and belt back up again in the morning because there is not a satisfactory service.
I am suggesting then, in relation to the public service, that there should be increased local autonomy to help bring about flexibility. Certainly privatisation does provide stimulus and privatisation will inevitably meet needs which cannot be met by an over-centrally controlled State service. There again I would ask that those who are ideologically pushing towards more and more privatisation might stop and ask has there been enough thought given to the public enterprise working much more effectively and efficiently through devolving more and more autonomy to the local unit of management or have we become so bureaucratically-minded that it is impossible to run a centrally organised State service without so much bureaucracy that people feel strangled at local level and morale at the bus station level and railway station level is dropping as a result?
When we talk about the failure of the State service or failures of the State service we need to ask if the people working in it have had the structures or the understanding to enable that service to work as effectively as I believe it could.
Finally, may I say that as I have just read an article which appeared in the Irish Independent of Wednesday, 6 December, I would hasten to reassure Senators, and, in particular Mr. Seán Whelan, that I am not a Unionist Senator.
Mr. O'Callaghan Mr. O'Callaghan
Mr. O'Callaghan: I would like to thank the Minister for his fortitude, fore-bearance and patience at this late stage of the evening. I certainly do not intend to keep him too long and I will endeavour in the main to address myself to the tourism dimension of the Bill.
I would like to refer briefly to a few other facets of the Bill. I appreciate the obvious efforts being made now in the area of the improvement of the rolling  stock of both the bus and rail services. In the knowledge that this improvement has taken place there is a very positive onus on the public to reciprocate so that this stock will stay in good condition. One only has to travel on the DART coaches — as I had occasion to do for the first time recently — to be quite astounded by the condition of some of them already. The public of that area of the city — I am not suggesting it is widespread but it is happening — exhorted public representatives and ultimately convinced CIE that this service should be provided. It is amazing to see that the stock is deteriorating already by virtue of the level of vandalism that is taking place.
The same applies to many other aspects of CIE's rolling stock. One despairs, if one has occasion to go on a school bus, for example, of any hope of salvation for this country when one sees the condition of even relatively new school buses that have been vandalised by children. If there is any suggestion, as any representative here who represents a rural constituency particularly will know, that even one scintilla of a mile is to be cut off any route there is uproar among parents. Yet we can see no effort being made to ensure that this rolling stock is preserved in the condition that it should be in if it is to reflect in any way any hope for the future of the children in our schools. It certainly must reflect badly on our schoolchildren and indeed on our educational institutions that such is the case.
Two years ago I was invited on board a spanking new school bus by a driver. This was adjacent to my own home. He had taken possession of the bus that very day. I would say without any exaggeration that there was at least £500 worth of damage done to the bus that day alone. The seats were ripped with penknives and so on. It was absolutely horrific. There is an onus on the public now in view of the significant State investment in recent times in CIE to upgrade rolling stock to respond. When I travel from here to Cork on the train I see the general indifference of the public with their feet up on seats and drinks being  spilled on carpets and so on. I must say it makes me despair. There is an onus on the public to respond in this area. We should exhort the public initially and ultimately force them to co-operate in this area.
Fining the passenger public must also be considered. I am aware the Minister is addressing himself primarily today to vandalism from the outside, as it were, where stones are thrown on to tracks. As Senator McKenna mentioned a moment ago, this is a regular occurrence on trains travelling in and out of this city. Windows are broken regularly. There is an onus on the public to respond in this area and that cannot be highlighted enough.
Reference was made to fare disparities. I would also like to touch on that. There are winds of improvement blowing through CIE. The dismembering of the old company as we know it was a very welcome development and I think that if there is hope of salvation for CIE it is in this area. They must operate effectively on a stand-alone basis. I would associate myself with Senator Robb's anxiety that the organisation should be further decentralised on a regional or county basis so that there would be some degree of autonomy down the country, as it were, and we would not find workers being constrained by the type of stranglehold the trade union members of CIE find themselves in in this city from time to time. Of course it ultimately permeates the country and it becomes a nationwide strike. Quite often the rural numbers are totally divorced from the dispute. There are winds of change blowing in the company and I think that we, the members of the public, must associate ourselves with that and support it.
At the end of the day, debate on this Bill is useless if the public do not support the services. There is a definite desire now among members of the public to travel mainline rail as far as possible. Senator Cassidy gave us an interesting dissertation on the attractions of Mullingar. I always thought that the only attraction in Mullingar was the heifer but there are obviously many others. Unfortunately the Senator is gone now so we  cannot praise the kind of rolling stock they have in Mullingar. It is becoming attractive for people to travel mainline now but the disparity in the fares bears a lot of questioning. I had occasion to drive to Dublin last week and to travel back by rail. It is £28 return and £20 one way to Cork. Cork people tend when they come to Dublin not to go back. So, I presume it is designed to encourage them to go home. By charging £28 return they are making it attractive to go back whereas it is £20 to come one way. These disparities should be eliminated. Early last year there was a very interesting experiment by CIE where the fares were slashed very considerably. I think it was only £10 return for about one month last year and trains were packed to capacity every day. That must beg the question that, if sufficiently attractive fares are introduced, they will get the desired results and the public will respond.
In relation to my particular area of interest, if there is any section of CIE's activities where work practice difficulties prevailed it must be in their market share in the tourism industry where the loss is reflected. It is not 1,000 years ago since CIE had a virtual monopoly of tourism traffic, of rail and of road traffic, indeed, and yet there has been a considerable slide in this area in recent years. To cite an example, recently the Park Hotel in Kenmare was stated to be the finest hotel in these islands and they are to be congratulated on that. This must beg the question that recently that hotel was CIE-owned and could not be run successfully. That was only about eight or nine years ago; in fact, in the heady tourism days in the seventies when we had none of the difficulties we have now. CIE did not then appear to be capable of running that company on a profit-making basis, primarily as a result of difficulties with staff and so on.
This proves the point, if it needs to be proved, that some form of privatisation will work in many of these areas. Privatisation may not be necessary if work practices can be improved. I am not in any way apportioning the blame for this  to any one sector of CIE because, as was seen on television recently, the agreement that was entered into recently by management on behalf of the company would make one despair.
In relation to the whole area of tourism, CIE still have a sizeable share of the touring coach traffic and I will be asking the Minister to examine seriously some problems that have been cited by people in the hotel and tourism industry, generally in relation to this business because the problem of “payola” is still very much alive and kicking in this industry. It is disconcerting for people in the hotel business, the souvenir business, shops or any business related to tourism to find that certain companies and certain hotels are patronised because “payola” is still in evidence. This will have to be examined seriously in relation to the activities of the company which we are discussing here today.
Acting Chairman Acting Chairman
Acting Chairman: Might I interrupt the Senator? There is a division in the Dáil at the moment and the Minister will have to leave for that division but the Senator, if he wishes, may conclude his speech or he may wait for the Minister to come back.
Mr. O'Callaghan Mr. O'Callaghan
Mr. O'Callaghan: I am about to conclude because I appreciate the Minister's tight schedule on this matter. The tourism dimension of this company needs to be examined in greater detail than it has been, particularly the aspect touched on by Senator Robb, which I had included in my notes also, in relation to the disposal of railway lines. They should be retained in public ownership where possible. The value of this was proved in Kerry this year with the opening of a sizeable stretch of railway track between Tralee and Dingle, called “The Kerryway”, which was extremely successful.
In conclusion, I thank the Minister for the introduction of this Bill. It is timely and I would like to subscribe to the sentiments expressed on it.
Minister of State at the Department of Tourism and Transport (Mr. Lyons) Denis Lyons
Minister of State at the Department of Tourism and Transport (Mr. Lyons): I  thank Senators for their contributions. It is unfortunate that when we have our train of thought established it has to be interrupted by another division but I can assure the House that, as on previous occasions, I shall be back as soon as I can to complete the business.
Sitting suspended at 8.35 p.m. and resumed at 8.45 p.m.
Mr. Lyons Mr. Lyons
Mr. Lyons: As I indicated earlier I will endeavour to reply to the various points raised by Members. Senator Bradford raised the question of the private bus services. The Road Transport Act, 1932, which is now over 50 years old, is the Act under which they operate. An in-depth review is now almost complete. It covers the liberalisation of bus licensing. The Minister expects to come to a conclusion very shortly on this matter. That conclusion could lead to amending legislation and if that is required I have no doubt that it will be brought before both Houses of the Oireachtas.
Senator Bradford also spoke about promotional fares. This is really the responsibility of the companies which are now separate elements within CIE. They use them as a marketing weapon. They require to do that — they should do it anyway — to maximise passenger carrying. This is part of their effort to make better use of their resources. These are the areas that we have been encouraging them to develop.
Senator Bradford also referred to section 5, concerning keeping costs of selling to a minimum. This was mentioned by other Senators also. CIE are really asking for an additional option. As I outlined in my Second Stage speech at times the amount and location of property for sale would not justify the expense involved in putting it into the hands of auctioneers and all the costs entailed. I would like to assure Members in so far as I can that in asking for this extra option I feel every aspect of the matter was taken into consideration and in my view this section is justifiable. I suggest in regard  to doubts expressed about tendering and auctioneering as mentioned by Senator Bradford, that management in CIE could be trusted in their judgment of which means they select for the disposal of properties, whether it be by auction or by tender.
Senator Bradford asked about the power of arrest. The provision in the Bill, section 2, is there in the interests of having legal certainty and to remove any doubt that may have existed on that score. Senator Hillery spoke about State guarantees on the basis of monitoring needs and asked if they are automatically renewable. Now, the actual borrowing is subject to the approval of the Minister and the Minister for Finance must give his proposal to such borrowing. The legislation before us now does not automatically give CIE power to go off and borrow. Any such borrowing must have the approval of the Minister for Finance. The question of giving guarantees is under continuous monitoring. These are given only where they are absolutely necessary and the Minister for Finance under section 4 (4) is required to give an annual report to the Oireachtas on any such guarantees. In a sense that requirement is guarantee enough. Guarantees related to individual loans are treated on an individual basis.
Senator Hillery also mentioned the fall in the Dublin bus traffic. I explained in my Second Stage speech that there has been a downward trend in the operating results here in Dublin and it is regrettable. There are many factors contributing to that downward trend some of which were enumerated by Senators. I have some certainty, as to recent days in particular, that the board are striving to improve the situation.
The matter of school buses is entirely one for the Department of Education. CIE in this instance merely act as agents for the Department with regard to school transport. Any proposals or suggestions would have to be directed to the Department of Education on that score.
A number of Senators mentioned the provision of facilities, shops and services at stations. Again, as I said earlier, the  CIE mandate is to maximise the value of their resources, and that includes all their resources, not just the staff, as some people might think. It is evident that CIE are very active in this area and as far as possible they use their property for transport purposes in the first instance but also for these other services where they are viable. We are aware of many places where they contract them. The point being made by Senators is that they should extend into that area. That is part of the maximising of the resources they should develop. Other Members mentioned that aspect also.
Senator Robb spoke of efficient service within State obligations — State versus private — and the need to focus on customers as well as boards and staffs, the dovetailing of all services. He also mentioned disused railway lines in the context of their disposal by auction or by tender. I have mentioned that already. The emphasis is on service and on the need to be customer-orientated. I accept that. In the earlier part of our discussions we omitted that very important point though I have a note made here before it was raised. But it is well that the matter was raised. Orientating the service towards the needs of the traveller is the important thing. CIE strive to integrate their services in so far as possible. Many of the points made by Senator Robb would be concerned with the integration of the various lines and services. Perhaps more can be done and I hope it will be done.
Mention was made of the discontinuance of services. In any area where services were discontinued this always arose from lack of consumer and customer support. The decisions for abandoning are statutory functions of the board and decisions are taken only after possible options have been examined. I am quite satisfied, and I am sure Members are also, that CIE do not rush hastily into abandoning any service but give it every consideration. We hope that will continue to be the case.
Industrial relations were mentioned by a number of Members and I just note  that the 1986 Annual Report says a total of 2,222 meetings were held with trade unions and third parties with regard to labour relations matters in that preceding year. That is an indication of the scale of activity on that front.
Senator O'Callaghan was concerned about vandalism on trains and the fact that the increase in penalties for breach of the bye-laws covering this dealt only with on the railways, outside and breaking glass. Section 6 deals more elaborately with the matter. Vandalism, as I said, on Second Stage is committed on or in relation to the railway. Of course, when we say the railway we think of the actual track, the sleepers, ballast and all that. It is covered. The sort of area that he dealt with, vandalism involving seating and tables on railway property is all covered. It is regrettable that we have to come to the stage of litigation rather than education of people in their attitude towards damage to public property. It is as much our own property as it is that of the company. I really do not know where we have gone wrong. Is it lack of civic spirit, or education, or guidance at home? I think we are all to blame. There must be something wrong.
The point made by Senator O'Callaghan is frightening if it involves the school children we had hoped were keeping us on the straight and narrow with regard to pollution, discarding of wrappings, and so forth. I found them like that. Now we find they are vandalising new buses. That is frightening for the future. We have to relate that to people concerned about how dangerous a course it is for them to be on.
I would like to thank Members of the House for their contributions to this debate. The Senators who spoke were Senators Bradford, Hillery, Cassidy, McKenna, Robb and O'Callaghan. It reflects their interest in the important question of the country's needs and the way they are met. I also acknowledge that time constraints would not allow many more Members to contribute. I am sure that all Members of the Seanad are of the same view as those of the Members who spoke. I welcome the support for the  Bill and the support expressed for the chairman of CIE, the board, the board of the subsidiary companies, the whole CIE organisation and the consumers. Some Members of the House recognise the progress made in CIE over the years. Others, myself included, have recognised a great need for improvement as well.
As regards the criticisms of the industrial disputes in Bus Átha Cliath and some CIE services, as I said earlier, I cannot but agree that there is great scope for a very large improvement in these areas. The CIE organisation are working on their problems and deserve every encouragement in expanding the use of the board's extensive resources. There were points raised of detailed operation and of a local nature, like those raised by Senator McKenna and others. It is not possible to deal with them in the course of my reply. I have confined myself to responding to queries on the proposals before the House and CIE issues in general. I will bring the report of this debate to the notice of the chairman of CIE so that he can take account of the many points made on the detailed matters relevant to CIE. That is the fairest way I can deal with that. Tá mé buíoch de na Seanadóirí go léir.
Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Seanad Éireann 118 Death of Former Members. Transport Bill, 1987: Second Stage (Resumed).