September 29, 2023

All-Island Strategic Rail Review

Ciarán Cuffe, MEP for Dublin
Green Party Comhaontas Glas
The Tara Building
11-15 Tara Street, Dublin 2

Department of Transport,

Leeson Lane, Dublin 2

D02 TR60


Department of Infrastructure

Clarence Court, 

Adelaide Street, Belfast


Dear Madam/Sir,

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the consultation for the All-Island Strategic Rail Review. I support this plan to increase connectivity across the whole island, in particular between core cities, and to fully electrify the network by 2050. In particular, the reopening of Claremorris-Athenry and the Waterford-Rosslare lines, the construction of the Foynes line, and the improved coordination of train schedules will help to bring Ireland’s rail network up to the standard of Western Europe, and decrease our reliance on cars. I suggest the following measures and considerations to improve this project and ensure its optimal success.

  1. There is a major opportunity to prioritise seamless multimodal door-to-door mobility.Rail users who make journeys using multiple transport modes, such as rail and bus, would benefit from the creation of multimodal ticketing and payment systems to make their journeys easier. Rail authorities could also consider providing bike, e-bike and car-sharing infrastructure at stations so that rail users could transfer effortlessly from train to car, if required. 
  2. The emphasis on rail access to ports is welcome. It is crucial that such linkages feature several hundred metres of level and straight quayside access if port linkages are to be fully utilised. The Irish Department of Transport should ensure that future port plans such as that of Dublin Port prioritise quayside rail access.
  3. Simple changes such as better signage in and around rail stations are needed. Connectivity improvements are needed at, and in the vicinity of rail stations. These improvements should focus on public realm improvements in the  environs of rail stations and could include wider footpaths and additional pedestrian crossing points, but should also include improved and standardised signage to and from rail stations.
  4. Coordination of timetabling between all public transport providers should be prioritised. In particular, bus, rail and ferry timetable managers should co-operate to maximise the possibilities for seamless transfer between modes.
  5. As highlighted by rail connectivity advocacy group Into the West, Derry is the only core city in this review to not have a 200km/hr rail service planned, subjecting the Derry-Portadown route to a substandard rail service. This rail line is to be constructed from scratch, and therefore should be at the same standard as those in the other core cities. The risk of this substandard service is that it will not attract people away from faster car journeys.
  6. Fermanagh, once home to one of Ireland’s busiest stations, is to be the only county in Ulster left unconnected via rail, with the Donegal-Enniskillen and Omagh-Enniskillen lines parked. This is a missed opportunity to move a town of 14,000 people away from car-dependence.  
  7. The Derry-Letterkenny line is a welcome proposal to connect Donegal to the rest of the country via rail, but a service which started and terminated at Letterkenny would be more logical than the current Derry-Letterkenny-Derry route which then continues to Strabane and Omagh. Moreover, the lack of rail connectivity in southern Donegal and the lack of service between Donegal and Sligo is deeply regrettable and perpetuates the north-west connectivity gap.
  8. When considering the rate of urban sprawl from Dublin and the long-term nature of this plan, it is noteworthy that there are no plans to increase connectivity to Wicklow Town or Kilcoole. As it stands, there are only two rush hour rail services from Wicklow Town and Kilcoole, and there are no plans in this review to increase that frequency. There is merely a proposal to introduce an hourly shuttle from Wexford to Greystones. County Wicklow has a population of 155,851, and it is regrettable to see no increase in rail connectivity to the county.
  9. Lastly, the precarity of the Stormont government raises concerns with this project, and it would be useful for citizens to see an action plan to ensure the All-Island Rail project continues and progresses despite any potential future issues in Stormont.

Thank you for taking these comments into consideration.

Sincerely yours,

Ciarán Cuffe

MEP for Dublin

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