Useless information about a railway

The Irish Times has a piece about the numbers of people travelling on some or all of a railway line from Limerick to Galway. But the article is entirely useless in enabling assessment of whether the line should be kept open. It tells us nothing about the costs of running the line, the cost of the £110 million of capital spent on it or the income generated by the passengers. Furthermore, it does not discuss the alternatives (buses) and their costs, whether to the user or to the taxpayer.

I can’t find information about individual lines either in the CIE annual report for 2017 [PDF] or in the most recent annual report for Iarnród Éireann (which runs the railways), which is for 2015.

I suspect, therefore (but am of course open to correction), that this is fake news, marketing or PR: a partial account of the line’s operations, intended to give the impression that it is a Good Thing. And because the important information is omitted, I suspect that it is not favourable to those arguing for ever-larger train sets whereon they may play with the choo-choos.

Incidentally, the number of passengers is about one quarter of that achieved by the Dublin & Kingstown Railway in its first year of operation in the 1830s.


9 responses to “Useless information about a railway

  1. I’m guessing it doesn’t factor in the environmental costs of all the petrol combustion engines either? ;)

  2. I think the buses have diesel engines, which tests* prove are environmentally friendly. But I think the choo-choos use diesels too. bjg

    *conducted by Messrs VW, amongst others

  3. Sure you are like The Times. Why not get all the info using “Freedom of Information “

  4. Irish Times journalists are paid to look into things; I am not. bjg

  5. When the telephone system got underway in the early 1900s that same logic came to the fore. People objected to trunk lines being installed ahead of demand for phone connections. So a rule was established that a trunk line could not be set up until there was a clear demand.
    This resulted in extraordinary delays in getting a phone connection in rural Ireland particularlyin the West. The lack of connectivity
    Delayed economic development.
    Clearly basic infrastructure has to be in place before full demand is expressed by the market. There is a clear bias against any developments in the West and so Dublin chokes on its lack of forward planning and the West is told to quietly die and not aspire to 21st century living.
    One of the factors inhibiting the growth of Shannon town in the 1960s was that whereas all the houses had a telephone line to the house PandT were years behind in trunk lines.
    Bye the way the railway fro Dunlaoire to Dublin was delayed by objectors for twenty years so when it did open there was huge pent up demand.

  6. First, the railway from Kingstown to Dublln was not delayed by objectors for twenty years. The first suggestion of a railway was made in 1825; the first notice of intention to petition parliament to permit the line was published in 1826; the company was formed in 1830 and the company’s bill received royal assent on 6 September 1831. There was no “huge pent up demand”: travellers to and from the harbour were adequately served by horse-drawn cars and the establishment of Kingstown as, in effect, a suburb of Dublin came about after the railway made commuting possible.

    Second, rural Ireland is not being deprived of transport: there are roads everywhere and there are buses to far more places than any railway could ever serve. The choice is not between providing a railway on the one hand and abandoning rural Ireland to isolation on the other: it is between spending money on an unnecessary railway and spending it on something more useful — such as grants to persuade small rural landowners to stop pretending that they are engaged in a useful economic activity.


  7. bjg, next you’ll be saying “I don’t see why anyone has to live or work in Ireland at all – perfectly adequate jobs and houses are available on mainland Europe, so I hear! At much more efficient rates!”

  8. Far be it from me to criticise people’s lifestyle choices — as long as they bear the costs themselves. bjg

  9. Well said bjg

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