Government accused of trying to run rail services 'on the cheap'

It is claimed Iarnród Éireann's financial situation is 'more severe' than the one at Bus Éireann

Government accused of trying to run rail services 'on the cheap'

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A member of the Dáil's transport committee has accused the State of running public transport 'on the cheap'.

The Solidarity TD for Cork North Central says it is no surprise to hear reports that Iarnród Éireann will only be €2 million short of insolvency later this year if losses continue.

According to The Irish Times, a recent Labour Court submission describes the company's circumstances as 'much more severe' than those at Bus Éireann.

Workers at the rail company are currently seeking pay increases.

The newspaper quotes comments from the company suggesting: "If we were to pay increases in such a perilous financial position we would effectively be trading recklessly."

Deputy Mick Barry says it is time for realistic public investment in the company - and he says that should include pay rises for workers.

He argued that Irish Rail's financial situation comes as "no surprise, because the Government has tried to run a rail service on the cheap, cutting the state subvention in half over the austerity years".

He added: "[That's] something that much be fully reversed now if we're going to have proper transport and rail service in this country".

The National Bus and Rail Union, meanwhile, accused the Government and Irish Rail of playing "Russian roulette" with public transport.

General Secretary Dermot O'Leary argued: "Irish Rail's spendthrift policy on everything bar pay rises must be investigated in light of its ‘we have no money’ statements to the Labour Court.

"It is long since passed time that those who provide support for this Government cried halt to this Russian roulette transport policy, before we are forced into a summer and autumn of chaos across our railways."

Earlier this year, SIPTU organiser Paul Cullen explained: “Our members in Irish Rail have not received a pay increase since 2008 despite having contributed to a significant reduction in overall payroll costs through agreeing to implement a series of cost-containment measures."

Last month, Bus Éireann workers - whose strike earlier this year lasted for three weeks - voted to accept Labour Court proposals aimed at resolving a dispute over cost-cutting measures at the transport company.