Wednesday, 15 March 1961
Seanad Eireann Debate
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: I do not intend to be long. I had hoped to confine my remarks the other evening to five minutes. I will do my best to do that, but I would remind the House that my offer was not then taken up.
The Leader of the House acted very well in introducing this motion. It gives an opportunity for discussion in another way on matters that had been ruled out of order technically. We must all appreciate that this has distinctly facilitated any of us who wanted to refer to matters related to C.I.E. It is a step which, as other Senators have said, is to be welcomed.
I want to say something in a moment about the closing of branch lines. Some of the main lines, however, are not as efficient as they ought to be. I had occasion to travel to Cork a little earlier than this time last year. I travelled down on the morning train and came up on the evening train about 10 days later. On both occasions, I sat with friends travelling with me, in an unheated carriage. The weather was considerably different from the weather we have had today. When I made some enquiries of the inspector I was told we were entitled to move into a heated carriage, which we then did. That happened twice— once on the morning train going down and once on the evening coming back 10 days later. I do not think that on a main line that should be possible.
A great deal has been said about the closing of the branch lines and the west Cork railway branch line in particular. It seems to be thought sufficient to say that a line is losing money, and it must therefore be closed. We all know this line. It was a line I later travelled on, on the occasion I have just mentioned. It is a magnificient line from the point of view of tourism. It goes through wonderful country. Merely to judge it on the question as to whether this particular branch pays its way seems an illustration of an entirely wrong approach, by those who should have the community's as well as the Company's interests at heart.
I was staggered, if I may say it in parenthesis, by the attitude of Senator Seán Ó Donnabháin who got all worked up with indignation because, he said, a petition was being got up locally! He seemed to think that it was a monstrous thing that people should have asked for signatures. Why should they not? What is wrong with it?
On the whole question as to whether you should necessarily close down a line which is “uneconomic”, I should like to make some comment. On page 9 of the report it says: “During the year, the Board decided that the undermentioned lines could not be made economic,” and, therefore, it decided to close them. I made the point then, and several times since, when we were asked to pass the Transport Bill in 1958 that, in fact, there are other major considerations in relation to transport. They are considerations which relate to transport as much as they relate to the necessity for keeping open lines of communication through the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. It is essential for business and civilised life that certain methods of communication, of carrying postal packets, letters, freight and people, should be kept open, whether or not, in a particular local area, they lose money. It is quite obvious that if you  were to run the Post Office on this kind of economic concept, parts of this country would be entirely without postal and telegraph services. The balance sheet attitude, which says that if there is a local deficit we must close down the local line is deplorably shortsighted. In other words, there may well be certain uneconomic sectors of railway lines which must be carried by the economic sectors.
Senator McGuire made that very point in relation to the business he understands so well himself—the field of retail trade—where it is absolutely essential to carry some uneconomic lines. I think that is as essential in relation to transport as it is in relation to trade. It would be absurd to set up toll gates on every road and close the roads which did not pay for themselves after a year, by the amount of the toll collected. I feel, therefore, that this “balance sheet attitude” has been an extremely narrow one.
It is also unreal because it is claimed that they are saving money in this way. There is no longer an obligation upon the company to maintain the permanent way of the abandoned line. If there is overcrowding on the roads, however, as there certainly will be, the time will come when increased expenditure on them will have to be paid for. It is taking money out of one of the pockets of the community and putting it into another pocket. We are producing a situation which demands that more and more money be spent on the roads, and pretending that we are saving money, simply because we do not have to spend it on the permanent way. That is a situation which seems to be indefensible. I am afraid we rather brought it upon ourselves because we allowed, in the Transport Act, this concept to be accepted.
“We should recognise that the power we are now giving would enable C.I.E. to do that”—to close the lines that were not actually  paying—“if they considered that the running of these stations and lines was uneconomic.”
We made the point that the Minister who was then before us had seemed very indignant, previously, in the 1949 debate, for the then Deputy Seán Lemass asked—and this is a quotation from the Dáil: “Will the Minister tell us if he accepted that recommendation?” which was a recommendation of the Milne Report which said: “In all the circumstances it is considered that any proposal to close branch lines solely on the grounds that they are at present unprofitable should be rejected.” Deputy Lemass was then most indignantly urging the then Minister to accept that suggestion. Yet, when as Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Seán Lemass came before us and asked us to pass that 1958 Bill, he seemed to have become quite unconcerned that it contained that narrow attitude so wisely condemand by the Milne Report.
I should like to mention another point. It is my last point. It is a question which is mentioned on page 9 of the C.I.E. Report for 1960, which we are now considering. I read in the report that “work study teams of the Board's employees were set up and extensive work study was undertaken particularly at the Inchicore Works and Traffic Department.” I should like to ask, arising out of that, whether there was any work study on the management side? I should like to know whether the managers have been found to be conducting their business well from the point of view of personnel management and labour relations, in view also of what is said on page 11: “Joint consultation was established with the trade unions and the staff at all levels.” I should like to know whether this, in fact, can be said to be working satisfactorily, when in point of fact for five days out of the working week, the workers are locked out and prevented from working. I should like to know whether, if the workers took the buses and proceeded to work them, the police could legally be called in at the behest of the management which is studying work?
 I am gravely perturbed at the whole question of labour relations in this company. We, as a community, are suffering from a breakdown on the part of the management in relation to their workers' dissatisfaction. The workers say they will not work for two days of the week because of wage conditions on those two days but for the other five days they are prepared to work. Yet the management is allowed by the Minister to stop them.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Would the Senator allow me? The ambit of this discussion was determined when it first started, and the Senator, having regard to the rights of those who have already spoken, may not continue on that line.
Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: I accept your ruling, Sir. I am not at all satisfied, however, with the reference in the report which says that there is “work study” going on in relation to “the employees”. I feel that it might be better directed higher up. I am not satisfied that the “joint consultation with the trade unions at all levels” is anything like what is needed. The public is in urgent need of assistance from the Minister. I would express the view that the sense of urgency is not sufficient, when we are told they are meeting at 3 p.m. in the afternoon, and adjourning until 3.30 p.m. on the following day. In the meantime, the people of Dublin and the country are being victimised by a quite unreasonable decision to lock out these workers, who are perfectly willing to work from Monday to Friday.
Mr. P. Crowley: In view of the ruling in connection with Senator Sheehy Skeffington, I shall be more or less expected to confine my observations to one question. I have no desire or intention to get into any discussion on the matter of the working of C.I.E. at the moment in relation to the present dispute. I am concerned with one aspect of the accounts in respect of which I have sought information elsewhere and could not get it. A study of the accounts shows that so far as the road passenger section is concerned, only the gross profit is shown. I do not think that the term “gross profit” means anything. I doubt, in fact, if there is any precise definition that can be put on it. What I want to know —and I should like the Minister to deal with it as fully as he can—is why the net profits of C.I.E. are not shown.
Éamon Ó Ciosáin: Ní mian liomsa aon chaint fhada a dhéanamh ar an dtuarascáil seo atá ós ár gcóir fé láthair mar go bhfuil an oiread sin ráite cheana ar Choras Iompair Éireann agus na rudaí ba cheart dóibh a a dhéanamh agus nár cheart dóibh a dhéanamh agus mar sin de. Ach tá aon rud amháin soiléir agus sé seo é go bhfuil dul chun chinn mór déanta ag Coras Iompair Éireann le cúpla bliain anuas agus is mór an sásamh dúinn é sin. Dá mbeidis ag dul sa treo eile agus dá mbeadh caillteanas ann de réir mar a bhí ann cúpla bliain ó shoin agus blianta roimhe sin do bheadh cúis ghearáin againn go deimhin agus do bheadh cúis ghearáin ag muintir na tíre.
Fé mar is eol do gach éinne, do cuireadh duine fé leith i mbun na hoibre sin. Do cuireadh ós cionn an Bhóird é agus do cuireadh mar dhualgas air feabhas do chur ar chúrsaí Chorais Iompair Éireann agus feabhas chomh mór sin i dtreo is ná beadh aon chaillteanas ann i gceann cúigh mbliain. Ba mhór an dualgas é sin agus ba mhór an ualach é chomh maith do chur anuas ar ghuailine aon duine agus in ionad bheith ag dul ina choinne anois agus in ionad bheith ag fáil lochta ar an obair atá dhá déanamh aige, ag an mBord agus ag lucht stiúrtha Chorais Iompair Éireann, ba cheart dúinn a bheith buíoch dóibh go léir mar gheall ar an bhfeabhas atá tagtha ar an scéal.
Go deimhin, ní fuiriste bearna de £1 miliúin fiú amháin a líonadh ach bhí bearna níos mó ná sin le líonadh ag an té a cuireadh i mbun Chorais Iompair Éireann. Caithfear ligint dó é sin a dhéanamh de réir dlí. Do chuireamar dlí ar bun anso chun údarás a thabhairt dó an scéal a leigheas agus tá sé dhá leigheas aige. Is dócha ná beadh aon ghearán le cloisint mura mbeadh gur dúnadh línte áirithe den bhóthar iarainn ar  fud na tíre. B'éigin don té atá i gceannas Chorais Iompair Éireann é sin a dhéanamh chun gan caillteanas a bheith aige agus ag an mBord ar an gcóras iompair.
Ní inniú ná inné a tosnaíodh ar línte den bhóthar iarainn a dhúnadh. Cuimhnigh air sin. Dúnadh línte áirithe i gContae Chiarraí agus tosnaíodh air sin a dhéanamh tamall de bhlianta ó shoin. Ní raibh an oiread sin gearán ag na daoine mar gheall air sin. Do ghlacadar leis mar do tuigeadh dóibh gur mar sin a bheadh dá mbeadh caillteanas ar na línte sin agus nuair a dúnadh na línte in áit áirthe cuireadh an clampar ar bun agus ní clampar go dtí é. Dá gcuireadh na daoine atá ag gearán anois agus a chuir an clampar céanna ar bun chun a thuille tráchta a thabhairt dona brainsí den bhóthar iarainn atá i gceist b'fhéidir go mbeadh a mhalairt de scéal anois againn.
Níor deineadh é sin in aon chor agus ba chiallmhar an rud é sin a dhéanamh. Tá sé seo i gceist. Má tá línte den bhóthar iarainn ná fuil ag díol asta féin agus go bhfuil caillteanas mór ortha, an ceart iarraidh ar mhuintir na tíre go léir cabhair airgid a thabhairt don mhuintir go bhfuil baint acu nó ná fuil baint acu leis na línte sin? Nuair shocraigh na daoine sin atá ag gearán anois ar gan feidhm do bhaint as an mbóthar iarainn is éigin do lucht stiúrtha an bhóthair iarainn, Coras Iompair Éireann, na brainsí sin a dhúnadh. An ceart anois iarraidh ar mhuintir na tíre teacht i gcabhair ortha nuair ná rabhadar féin toilteanach cabhrú leis na brainsí atá i gceist? Ní dóigh liom go mbeadh agon bhun leis sin. Is mar sin a chaithfimid an scéal a mheá.
Nuair a cuireadh an tuarascáil sin ós ár gcóir ar dtúis bhí coinne agam go mbeadh díospóireacht againn ar an gcuspóir atá ag Coras Iompair Éireann fé láthair na línte sin ná fuil ag díol asta féin a dhúnadh ach ní raibh aon choinne agam go mbeadh an díospóireachtar ar fad beagnach mar gheall air sin. Tá a lán rudaí eile le cur fé dhíospóireacht maidir leis an dtuarascáil atá i gceist anso againn. Do chualamar daoine dhá rá anocht ná fuil Coras  Iompair Éireann ag cur díobh i slite áirithe fé mar ba cheart. Tá siad ag fáil locht ortha mar gheall air so agus ar siúd. Is fuirist méar a chur ar locht nó dhó ach cad mar gheall ar na rudaí maithe eile atá dhá ndhéanamh acu? Ní chloisfear aon fhocal mar gheall orthu sin. Ó cheann ceann na seachtaine agus ó ceann ceann na bliana bíonn a lán cúramaí ar lucht Chorais Iompair Éireann. Is ceart féachaint ar an bpictiúir ar fad agus tríd is tríd.
Is dóigh liomsa go bhfuil Coras Iompair Éireann ag cur díobh go maith, go bhfuil an obair dhá déanamh acu go maith agus go bhfuil an stiúradh ar an gcóras taistil go maith agus cé go bhfuil lochtaí beaga le fáil ortha anois is arís ní ceart iad a lochtú ar fad. Im thuairimse tá cúrsaí Chorais Iompair Éireann sa tír seo chomh maith is a gheobhfá in aon tír eile iad de réir gustal na ndaoine agus de réir an méid airgid atá le caitheamh acu. Caithfidh siad an scéim a dhíriú taobh istigh de roint áirithe airgid.
Dá mbeadh níos mó airgid acu, d'fhéadfaidis a lán eile a dhéanamh. D'fhéadfaidís págh níos fearr a thabhairt dona daoine atá sa seirbhís agus na táillí a laghdú ar an lucht taistil. D'fhéadfaidís a lán rudaí den tsaghas sin a dhéanamh dá mbeadh an t-airgead acu chun cabhrú leo. Ach níl an t-airgead san acu. Caithfidh siad díol astu féin. Caithfidh an córas díol as féin agus is ceart san mar dá mbeadh a mhalairt de scéal ann gheobhfá daoine ansan ag gearán mar gheall ar an méid a bhí á thabhairt ag an Stát dóibh, nó an méid a bhí á thabhairt ag an Rialtas ar son an Stáit, dóibh agus mar sin de.
Fé mar dúirt, tríd is tríd, tá obair mhaith á déanamh ag Córas Iompair Éireann agus má leanann siad orthu agus má chuireann siad díobh sa tslí céanna go ceann roinnt blianta eile gheobhfar amach go mbeidh cúntas maith le fáil againn uathu.
Fé mar dúirt i dtosach, ní chloisfimís an oiread sin mar gheall ar an scéal muna mbeadh línte áirithe á ndunadh. Dúnadh i gCiarraí iad agus ní raibh aon trioblóid mar gheall air mar is daoine tuisgionacha iad san.
Éamon Ó Ciosáin: ——agus tuigeadh dóibh nach bhféadfaí na línte sin a choimeád ag obair muna mbeadh na daoine sásta cabhrú leo, muna mbeadh siad sásta taisteal ar na línte sin. Ní raibh aon choinne acu go dtiocfadh muintir na tíre i gcabhair orthu chun na línte san a choimeád ar oscailt.
Caithfimíd aghaidh a thabhairt ar an scéal mar atá sé agus is soiléir mar tá sé nach mbíonn na daoine féin sásta feidhm a bhaint as na bóithre iarrainn a thuille mar gur dóigh leo go n-oireann dóibh gluaisteán dá gcuid fhéin a bheith acu mar mhalairt ar an saghas taistil a gheobhfaidís ón mbóthar iarainn nó, ó Chóras Iompar Éireann. Nuair a bhíonn siad sásta é sin a dhéanamh, má shocraíodar an bóthar iarainn a thréigint agus saghas eile taistil do thógaint orthu féin, níl aon leithscéal acu agus ní ceart go mbeadh coinne acu go mbeadh muintir na hÉireann ag cabhreí leo nuair nach bhfuil siad féin sásta na bóithre iarainn a choimeád ar siúl.
B'fhearr linn muna mbeadh ar Chóras Iompair Éireann na línte seo a dhúnadh agus b'fhearr le lucht stiúrtha Chóras Iompair Éireann é sin leis, déarfainn, ach cad é an leigheas atá acu ach an leigheas atá á úsáid acu anois? Dá bhrí sin, molaim dosna daoine san atá ag gearán athmhachnamh a dhéanamh ar an gceist seo agus b'fhéidir go bhfaighidís amach go mbeadh níos mó tairbhe, go mbeadh níos mó compóird le fáil acu as an busanna a cuirfear ar siúl amach anseo nuair a bheidh na línte dúnta. Tá caint ar an méid costais a cuirfear ar na bóithre—agus cuirfear costas áirithe ar na bóithre—ach ní dóigh liom go gcuirfear an oiread sin orthu is atá daoine áirithe ag iarraidh a chur ina luí orainn. Sna háiteanna iargúlta san atá i gceist, beidh córas níos fearr le fáil acu ar na bóithre mar beidh córas le fáil acu ag béal an dorais, rud ná raibh roimis seo.
Mr. O'Reilly: I understand that only two hours have been allocated. Time is running out. Since I was one of those who indicated to the Chair my desire to speak on the last occasion, I think I am entitled to speak.
Professor Quinlan: I hope to do as much as I can to expose what is perhaps the greatest myth existing today. If I may quote the Minister, the chief spokesman for that myth, he said in the Dáil that the loss fell to £709,000, a reduction of £1.2 million over 1958/59 and £1.6 million over 1957/58. This most astonishing improvement in so short a time, he said, was not secured merely by reducing uneconomic services. I have made a very close study both of the debate in  the Dáil and the debate in the Seanad last week and have gone into the figures in great detail and I hope to be able to show that the position of C.I.E. has not improved by one single pound over the past 12 months.
It is very easy to make a book-keeping balance when you have the decisions in your own hands. Taking the report of C.I.E. we see the expenditure on page 16. The maintenance of lines and works decreased from £1,522,000 to £1,255,000 in the past year, a decrease of £267,000. I challenge anybody to say that that is not a top management decision made at the start of the year as to how much was to be devoted in that year to the maintenance of lines and works. Consequently, by top management decision, C.I.E. were able to make their first spectacular saving in the year, a reduction of £267,000. It is rather significant that this reduction is one-seventh and the mileage of lines closed in the 12 months is one-seventh. If we are asked to believe that maintenance was kept at the same standard for both years, those uneconomic lines over which very little traffic had passed in the previous years were costing as much to maintain as the main lines. This, therefore, is a book-keeping reduction.
The second reduction is in regard to traffic expenses. Fuel consumption for the year was down from £790,000 to £650,000, a reduction of £133,000. thanks to the dieselisation programme of the former years. As will be seen from this report, there was a marked decrease in the number of steam locomotives when the disselisation programme took over. That was also based on the input of capital and that, I suggest, is just a part repayment of the large capitalisation that went in to it earlier.
Next we take depreciation of rolling stock. This is down from £1,132,000 to £1,032,000; in other words £100,000 less provision for depreciation than in former years. Why is that so? If it were due to taking less depreciation in respect of the diesel locomotives or writing off the others that have gone, it was brought about by the Act of  the Oireachtas which capitalised the dieselisation programme and therefore credit cannot be taken for any of those supposed savings in the year. Yet those savings amount to £500,000 in the year. I have already shown that of this £1,200,000 saving, £5000,000 was due either to top management decisions or a decrease in costs, whether fuel or depreciation, consequent on the large amount of money put in by the taxpayer in the previous years. It has to follow absolutely and necessarily.
I might draw attention to the fact that the depreciation allowance is certainly the least that could have been put in. There is an investment of £12 million shown in these locomotives and cars and the depreciation allowance in that respect is £650,000; in other words, slightly over five per cent., assuming that the cars will not have to be replaced for 20 years. That is rather optimistic and long before those 20 years are out, we shall have another modernisation programme calling for a huge injection of capital to make up the deficits in inadequate depreciation that is being set aside and consequently is simply being used as a means to show paper profits and paper reductions.
That does not finish it, for other items are just as dubious. We have, for instance, the Board's contribution to the superannuation scheme. Salaries went up during the year by three per cent. to five per cent. and any normal business man would assume that the contribution to superannuation should go up a like amount. What do we find? It is reduced by over £50,000, from £519,000, a reduction of 10 per cent. That shows, if you like, that they have been given permission to reduce staff. So that now the flight from the land will soon be augmented by a flight from C.I.E. and added to the figure of 9,000 a year, there will be 1,200 flying from C.I.E. The best we can claim is that we are building factories and that when these factories are in production the increase in employment will be about 7,000. That anyway is the Board's contribution. Certainly no business could function on that level.
That is not all. In regard to the  interest position, over the two years, despite the fact that a loan for £3,000,000 was floated and that interest and sinking fund amounted to £139,000, the Board's interest payment fell by £70,000 because the State wrote off £238,000, according to the Transport Act. If C.I.E. paid in £70,000 less in interest last year than the year before, can anbody except the taxpayer claim credit for that? Is that not a subsidy if ever there was an item entitled to be called a subsidy?
Next we come to road freight. We are told the road freight services are expanding. So many miles of line were closed in that year and alternative road freight services were provided. We find the miracle has happened. The miracle is, according to the total of road passenger workings, the maintenance for the buildings actually decreased by 20 per cent. in that year of rising costs, including labour costs. It decreased from £19,000 to £15,000. Certainly that should be commended to all business; expand and cut absolute costs.
Maintenance of buildings was down from £10,900 to £9,900. How is that done? Then we have maintenance of vehicles and equipment for the road. With the expanded road freight services, the maintenance of vehicles and equipment was down from £327,000 to £308,000—a reduction of six per cent. Most of these are on a planned basis. You decide at the start of the year how these vehicles are to be brought in for servicing, the periods between servicing, and so on. I am not saying the management are wrong in lengthening the periods but it cannot be claimed as a wonderful saving when you spread the depreciation much more thinly and consequently reduce the working life of the vehicles concerned. Otherwise, in the previous year, there was far too much spent on maintenance. That does not make sense.
There is a saving of £32,000 on canals by the same type of expendient. The maintenance of buildings was cut in half. They were simply allowed to rot. The maintenance of the waterways and the works was down from £51,000 to £46,000. Fuel and other  expenses were down. All those were reduced by direct action which simply stopped the services. Those are actions in no way concerned with the Board's own efforts to reduce.
One item remains, an item glossed over very neatly in the report. The total work force decreased by 1,200 persons, or five per cent. I cannot find the total amount paid to the staffs of C.I.E. This is the first time there has been that omission. I tried to get the information, as it is not in the report. It was in every previous report. By getting rid of 1,200 employees, the wage bill of C.I.E. was reduced by £500,000. Can credit be taken for that reduction? Add up all these reductions and you get £1,198,000. That shows a net change in the position of less than £2,000 and I could easily demolish that with the other items.
That is the magical transformation and the magical position that has been achieved. The best that can be claimed is that C.I.E. by their own efforts, have maintained the status quo. They have stopped, to an extent, the decline in the fortunes of the company but there is no real accounting figure to show any improvement in the position unless we say that having given £500,000 in subsidy to a body that body in that year made £500,000 profit. That is an easy way to make a profit. I wish I could do it.
These 1,200 workers were unloaded on to the backs of the taxpayers. It has been impossible to find the amount paid to those found redundant. I asked the Minister how much was paid. My estimate is that they should have got at least a two years' salary pay-off. That would mean something like £700 or £800 per worker. Assuming half of them, having reached the age limit, were retired, that means C.I.E. cost, on redundancy, at least £600,000 to £800,000 last year. These are plain facts. They cannot be controverted in any way. The figures stand out.
It is in the light of that factor that we listen to this bleating about a supposed loss of £52,000 on the west Cork railway line. The Minister got facts and  figures from C.I.E. to substantiate that figure. Has he the breakdown of the accounts? We have every reason to believe from the new work carried out at the stations and other parts that west Cork carried more than its share in the past year. The maintenance of lines and works was reduced by a straight figure of one-seventh in the past year.
What type of management decision was it that, knowing these lines were awaiting closure, nevertheless went ahead and spent hard-earned taxpayers' money on painting and modernising? Again, on this figure of £52,000 lost, what really staggered me was that it was so little. It is less than the average loss per mile over the rest of the system. On the Minister's figures, 40,000 tons of beet are going by lorry in west Cork. at a freight of over £1 a ton. This year, there is a big expansion in beet. If we secure entry into the British market for our sugar at Commonwealth level, there will be a further expansion and it is not 40,000 tons of beet but 80,000 tons or 100,000 that will be involved in the year ahead. Beet alone could wipe out that. Why is it not being done?
Five or six years ago, a very high percentage of beet from west Cork went by rail to Mallow. We in Cork city are thankful for that. To-day, 50 per cent. goes by lorry because C.I.E. are modernising, and so on. They expect the collies of west Cork to pitch the beet into the lorries and then to pitch it off again at a later stage.
Professor Quinlan: That is the antediluvian approach to loading, as Deputy Corry proved so effectively in the Dáil. It is simply a question of providing a loading ramp to which the lorry can drive up. They can be provided at a cost of £50 apiece. They could transform the beet situation in Cork and there would be no sympathy whatsoever for anybody if an order were made to ensure that all the beet of West Cork to be drawn by C.I.E. would go by rail.
Everybody who understands the position in Cork knows that the  Minister's 40 lorries and big trailers that will be back and forth twice a day there will create traffic chaos in that region. I know the city. I have seen the deterioration in the city traffic over the past two years. The line comes in and skirts the city and emerges without causing any real traffic congestion. Apart from its value to West Cork, and so on, the branch line took heavy traffic from Cork city. If it is closed, it will probably have to be reopened in years to come.
Mr. O'Reilly: The House allocated two hours to this debate. I signified my intention of speaking. I understood that only those who had signified their intention to speak on the motion would be called on to speak during the two hours and that an hour was to be allocated to the Minister. That was my understanding of the arrangement.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: No. The Senator's understanding is not correct. There were three speakers, one of whom would speak for half an hour. That particular Senator did not come in to-night and is not speaking. In fact, Senator Quinlan is taking up his time. He has not yet had that Senator's time.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: Here is the position as far as I remember it on the last date and it will be verified by the Official Report. I asked were there to be only two speakers on the next day. This was the sort of thing I was anxious to avoid when the debate was resumed. On your suggestion, I agreed that on the next day, there would be two hours, of which the Minister would get one. That arrangement was arranged by and approved of by the House and we must stick to it.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: In fact, there were three Senators—Senators O'Reilly, Sheehy Skeffington and O'Quigley, Senator O'Quigley was the Senator who was to take half an hour. In fact, neither of them spoke for half an hour. Senator Ó Ciosáin, who did not state his intention of speaking, took half an hour. I do not think there will be any difficulty in giving Senator O'Reilly an opportunity of taking part in the debate.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: All I am interested in is that the Minister will start at 10 p.m. I understand that there is some difficulty with regard to staff transportation here. It is essential that we should finish in order to facilitate them.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: No. The arrangement was that the debate would be completed within two hours, one of which was to be given to the Minis-  ter. That was not exactly precise to the last minute. The precise part about the arrangement was that the Minister would get an hour and he will get it.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: My whole proposition on the last occasion was to ensure that there would be a definite time and that there would be no recrudescence of this debate and that it would not last into the night. If it is proposed to broaden the scope of the debate again, the arrangements made the last day go by the board.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: There has been a certain waste of time about this. There was all the time my intention to call upon the Minister at 10 p.m. but I think that Senator Quinlan should have a couple more minutes.
Professor Quinlan: I have put study into this. I have facts and figures which I deny anyone can challenge. I should like the Minister, if he has those reports for the west Cork lines, to let us have them. The worst thing that ever happened to democracy in this country is the action of C.I.E. in refusing to meet representatives from the west Cork region. There is no democracy where such things could happen. I protest as strongly as possible  against that flagrant abuse of democracy.
Professor Quinlan: I warn the Seanad against these package deals of C.I.E. unless these are capable of being investigated by the Fair Trade Commission. The unfortunate haulier in a region has the ground cut from under him by a package deal, unless he can bring his case to the Fair Trade Commission. The well-known monopoly practice of cutting the ground from under the feet of a competitor is a very dangerous precedent. It is something that we will have to investigate very closely within the next year or two. It would not be tolerated for one moment by the anti-trust laws of America.
Mr. O'Reilly: I intend to say a few words on this matter and I will confine myself to the west Cork railway. I am not all hot and bothered because it is a bit remote from me. I am in no way involved in any agitation and I think I have a more open mind on the matter. I heard my colleague quote from a newspaper called The Southern Star. Frankly, I never heard of such a newspaper before and I have not read it. I would not even read The Skibbereen Eagle.
Mr. O'Reilly: It would be a good job if people spent less time reading the agitative sort of reports that appear in these newspapers. Perhaps, they are influential newspapers but I do not read them. I am not in any way prejudiced by what they say or what they do not say. I intend to approach this matter, having some little experience, I think, because I remember the closing of a similar railway, a narrow gauge railway which  served Leitrim and Cavan. I am inclined to like to see railways run, maybe without giving them the volume of support I should give them.
Mr. O'Reilly: I was a bit sorry when the railway—I refer to the Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway—was closed. I can tell you who closed it: it was the people there who would not give it the volume of support in passenger and goods traffic that it should have got. There were many people in the public and commercial life of Leitrim who, when it was about to be closed, were disgusted. Some of the people who have some little leadership, both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, discussed it. We were sorry to see it go but there was one thing we had not got. We had not the audacity, not having given it the volume of support we should have in that we used our private cars and our lorries for goods haulage, when we could have used the railways, to raise a terrific rumpus about it and that is why it did die a rather quiet death. We did not apparently have enough cheek——
Mr. O'Reilly: ——after allowing it to die to try to give it artificial respiration when it was at the stage at which it could not be brought back to life. I say this quite deliberately because I cannot help thinking, having listened to Senator Ó Donnabháin's quotations from the newspaper, that there is a lot of professional agitation in this. I regret to have to say this. I fear that many people who now are very concerned about the closing of the railway did not give this railway the measure of support it should have got. Mind you, I cannot see that railway being maintained and paying its way. I say this quite sincerely to Senator O'Sullivan: if I thought there was any reasonable hope that it would get the traffic, I would side with him and say it should be maintained, but  apparently there is not that guarantee or reasonable hope that it would get enough passenger or goods traffic to keep it going. There is something from which we all suffer and I am afraid I suffer a bit from it myself. We like to see trains running as children like to see clockwork trains running at Christmas just for the pleasure of seeing them running, but in the case of a commercial undertaking, you must give the necessary support by way of traffic. Otherwise, it is as if none of us had advanced from the childhood stage of liking to see the trains run.
Mr. O'Reilly: I accept the Chair's ruling and will obey with as much grace as I can. If the people who are so worried about the railway now but who failed to give their support to it, instead of spending so much money in agitation, even fighting a law case——
Mr. Childers: If it were not necessary for me for a particular reason to close at 10.45 p.m. I should be glad to give way to other Senators but I have not an hour—I have actually 40 minutes. The best thing for me to do is to start speaking in particular before I go on to speak in general because the general position is, I think, known to the House. I will begin with particular issues and not go over the original purpose of the 1958 Act and all that. I will start with some comments on the closing of the West Cork line.
The West Cork line, I am satisfied, was losing £56,000 a year and I might add that the total receipts of the line were only £113,000, an indication to the House of the very heavy extent of the loss. If it were losing £56,000 on a total receipt of £113,000, that can be regarded as very, very costly. I should add also that the C.I.E. in making that statement have not charged overhead costs attributable to central workshops or other commitments in arriving at the figure of £56,000.
Mr. Childers: Those expenses were not included, either. It was the people who decided the closing of the line and it was the Dáil and Seanad who decided the closing of the line by passing the 1958 Act and that is the position. It was the people themselves who, by their action in not supporting the railway, made its closing inevitable.
Mr. Childers: I also want to make it absolutely clear to the House that the clamour in West Cork for the retention of the railways was made by persons who would not use the railway and who never used it. I say that beyond all question. I am absolutely certain that what I am saying is correct. Clamour against closing railways is universal all over the world. In every country, there arises this extraordinary outcry amongst the people of any areas where railways are closed. It is a spirit of outdated sentiment. It is universal and has to be faced in this country when an uneconomic line closes exactly as it has been faced in other European countries where thousands and thousands of miles of railway were closed over the past 20 years.
Having said that, I might give a few more facts about the West Cork line. The average number of passengers carried by train in West Cork was 30. That is not a railway; you could not call that a railway.
Mr. Childers: The average number of passengers entraining and emerging at Cork city was 56 persons per train.  That is not a railway. That is some form of transport that should be closed down because it has outlived its purpose. The average amount of goods carried by goods train excluding beet was 45 tons. The wagon capacity is between 10½ and 12 tons. That is not a railway and no one could expect a railway to survive on that basis.
Mr. Childers: The tonnage of goods carried, exclusive of beet, on the west Cork line per working day was roughly 170 tons. In the case of the Clare line, it was 40 tons, and it was negligible in the case of Waterford, but it is not a freight carrying train. The average number of passengers carried on the Clare line, which is 53 miles long, was 353 per day. The average number on the west Cork line, which is 92 miles long, was 400 per day showing apparently that the people of west Cork were supporting the railway even less than the people of west Clare, making allowances for the length of track.
The next thing I want to say is that I have never yet received a letter from anyone living in either the west Cork or the west Clare area offering substantial traffic to the railways if they were not closed. I should make that absolutely clear: there were no offers of an increase by——
Mr. Childers: I should also say that in regard to both the west Cork and the west Clare railways, the commercial representatives of C.I.E. travelled around and talked with the people and went to the merchants for a considerable period before the decisions to close the lines were taken and they could get no offers worth mentioning of extra traffic. That is a fact. C.I.E. wanted to maintain both these railways, if it was possible, and they made every effort to do so. In actual fact, the number of package deals under contract on the west Cork line in the period prior to closing were valued at some £722 and they were worth something like £1,230 to the main line, after an intensive effort in the west Clare and Cork districts, exactly as if those lines were going to be preserved.
These facts have to be considered in relation to the decision to close these uneconomic lines. I also want to point out that out of 13 industrial undertakings in west Cork, only 3,200 tons out of 41,500 tons were carried and are carried by C.I.E. Despite the package deals offered to them, they evidently find it is preferable to send their goods and materials by other means than the rail services. I should also say that the Industrial Development Authority was consulted in relation to the industries which everyone hopes will come to west Cork and none of them is in any way affected by the decision to close the railway.
Mr. Childers: The modern industrialist thinks only of the frequency and efficiency of transport. It means nothing to him whether his goods go by rail or road and the idea that has  been suggested in certain quarters that industries are not going to materialise in west Cork because of the absence of a rail service is ludicrous beyond description. Thousands of industries have been started all over the world, in Europe, Great Britain and here, which have never depended on the railway for the carriage of goods and which never considered the proximity of the railway in relation to the location of their factories. There are other factories where the railway is valuable and where rail traffic suits them, but in this particular case, the most minute inquiry was made and there is no reason to expect that the industrialisation of west Cork will be affected in any way whatever.
I should also point out that where rail services have closed elsewhere in the country, people have been satisfied and the complaints have been negligible. The weekly season tickets provided on the buses, the arrangements for carrying school children and students, have been found satisfactory and since those arrangements were made, I have received a negligible number of complaints. In connection with one particular line, the Cahirciveen-Tralee line, the number of people going on the buses in a recent four-weeks period, excluding the holiday period, as compared with the numbers travelling on the old rail line has gone up by 62 per cent. Why? Because the buses set down passengers at a greater number of points and more people could avail themselves of the buses in that area than could avail of the rail services.
To illustrate how you can get this agitation started and thousands of people protesting against the closing of the railway, we can take the case of Bundoran. Bundoran was to be a ghost town and the most terrible things were said at the time of the closing of the line to the Six Counties. What is the position? In the People's Press in April, 1958, the announcement was made that the journey from Belfast was 80 to 110 minutes less to Bundoran by the new bus service; there were new services of buses from mid-Ulster; the Scottish visitors arrived six hours  earlier and there were more excursions. All the propaganda was proved to be unfounded.
The same is the case in regard to the other railways that have been closed. After six months, nobody says anything about it. I should add that it is an extraordinary fact that deputations were received by my predecessor in the old days when the Minister had direct responsibility for the decision to close lines and the people who came on the deputation were themselves not using the line, about the closing of which they were protesting. On one famous occasion, the Minister carefully looked up the times of the train before meeting the deputation and then he said to the deputation: “Gentlemen, it is time you caught your train so that you can get your connection”—to whatever town they were going. Not one of them had come by train.
Mr. Childers: I mentioned that because it seems to be of some importance in relation to this matter. The suggestion has been made that all the workers on the line are being compensated and are losing their service with C.I.E. There were 297 workers on the three lines and 140 are being retained and 122 are receiving compensation which, of course, is a figure that will gradually decline in the course of time.
Mr. Childers: The compensation amounts to £27,800. I next come to the statements made in regard to beet traffic. There has been a gradual transfer of beet traffic from rail to road for a very considerable period. In 1954, only 10 per cent. of the traffic was taken by road and in 1959-60, 50 per cent. of the traffic was taken by road. Senator O'Sullivan made an extraordinary claim whereby, adding the receipts for the beet traffic to the losses experienced by the West Cork line, he suggested that that line could pay. He forgot to subtract the receipts from carrying the beet—the costs of  carrying—so his calculations were not valid.
The new arrangements for carrying beet, I understand, will be fairly satisfactory. The 38 per cent. of the farmers who formerly had their beet carried by rail were saved 9d. per ton and 62 per cent. will pay a very small extra sum if they want their beet to be carried from a place other than the actual farm.
There has always been plenty of competition with C.I.E. in the beet field. Some of the hauliers have been charging for a number of years 12½ per cent. less than the price at which C.I.E. were carrying beet. C.I.E. are very successful elsewhere in competing for traffic. In that area, out of 130 hauliers, 55 have been carrying beet in a recent period.
C.I.E. have no evidence that the installation of loading ramps at stations other than where they exist already would have very much effect on the carriage of beet by rail. They are only availed of by farmers to a limited extent. It is not a fact that failure to install loading ramps at certain stations is a main cause for decline in carriage of beet by rail.
In Bandon, there has been a loading ramp for a considerable period where three or four lorries can be loaded at a time. The amount of beet carried from there by rail was about 7,000 tons in 1954-55. The amount carried in 1959-60 had gone down to 3,217 tons. Quite clearly, that proves that the ramp does not seem to have the magical effect on rail traffic suggested.
A great number of farmers appear to prefer the single handling of their beet. It is expected that the vehicles that pass through Cork city will pass through at varying intervals. The idea that the traffic in Cork city will be entirely obstructed by the beet lorries is utterly ridiculous and without foundation. I have given the specific facts in relation to the Cork line. I think it will be seen that the railway was losing a great deal of money and that C.I.E. were quite justified under the Act in closing it.
 The extra traffic to be carried on the roads, in proportion to the total traffic carried in the west Cork area is, as I have already indicated in public statements, negligible because the rail system was insufficiently used. A system whose total receipts were £1,13,000 and whose losses were £56,000 will not transfer to the roads an enormous burden of traffic. Beyond all doubt, all the three local authorities who estimated the costs of repairing and improving roads as a result of the closing of the rail lines included backlog work in their calculations. I am certain that in the case of west Clare, with the additional passage of these vehicles alone, the west Clare road system could not in any conceivable circumstances cost the Clare County Council ratepayers an additional £600,000 for the improvement of the roads. Such a statement is ludicrous.
I found out by a careful re-reading of the report in the Clare Champion that the county engineer was including a considerable measure of backlog work. It is all very well to say that nine vehicles will be the last straw that will break the camel's back. It is not a realistic argument.
For the nine vehicles that will be put on the west Clare system, there are already circulating in west Clare 5,674 vehicles. In County Cork, for 90 miles of road, the estimate was in the region of £920,000. That was to cover the passage of 14 buses, lorries and trailers and the 40 lorries to carry beet. I decided to make a fantastic calculation my self to try to find out if some of these gentlemen who have been including backlog work in their calculations——
Mr. Childers: I made this calculation in order to counter the other. Last year, there was an increase in the total number of vehicles in this country running on all the roads of 24,300. The additional expenditure upon the roads in that year was about £200,000. The additional number of  vehicles to be put on the roads as a result of the three lines closing, apart from the occasional beet traffic, is 27. On that basis, the amount required for the roads proportionately would be £4,500 million.
Mr. Childers: If there are a few more vehicles going on the roads, it may be opportune to consider that something should be done to ease corners and reduce the risk of accidents. County councils would naturally like to take advantage of the new situation where there is a slight addition to traffic to ask for some further aid in the improvements of their roads. In the case of the Waterford-Tramore line the Minister for Local Government clarified the position by saying that from the technical information available to him, no appreciable damage would be done by the extra buses passing along the roads. He also made it clear, in respect of that line, that the flood conditions on the road had been a problem for a very long time. The traffic on all these roads has been very heavy for a very long period. There has already been a great deal of heavy traffic. That has been exemplified by statements in the Dáil by people who found it difficult to pass big lorries at certain seasons of the year on certain parts of the west Cork road. The Minister for Local Government has made reasonable contributions to county councils in areas where railways have closed. He made calculations based on the capacity of the authorities to pay——
Mr. Childers: ——and on the marginal effect of the extra vehicles in County Kerry. A total once and for all, of more than £50,000 was given over a period of four years. He is examining the position in regard to the railways that are now closing. I have no doubt he will act reasonably in regard to the matter.
 Senator Sheehy Skeffington spoke about the breakdown in the heating system in the trains to Cork. The Senator will find that there will be less cause for complaint in the future. The whole of the system is being improved and all the time there are changes for the better in relation to breakdowns of every description.
He made a comparison between railway lines, which have been closed, with the postal and telegraph system. He seemed to forget that if the postal system ceases, there is nothing to replace it, whereas in the case of the railway, if it closes, the buses can replace it.
Mr. Childers: Work study is being conducted in connection with every aspect of the company's operations. There has been a massive operation involving a great many people. The whole of the service is being examined with a view to an improvement in quality and to the provision of speedier and more comfortable trains.
Senator Crowley asked a question about the accounts. He spoke of the fact that only the gross profits were indicated in relation to road passenger service. That prompts me to make one very important point. It seems to be forgotten by the public that C.I.E. is a national transport company. It is not a railway company. It is a national transport company, having road vehicles and a rail service. It is up to C.I.E. to apportion the overhead costs over the whole system, if they so desire. They do not want to give the impression to the public or to the auditors that it is a system consisting of two absolutely separate parts. It is a national transport system and it is  going to be more and more co-ordinated as such in practical operation. Therefore, in relation to the accounts, they have no special obligation to split up the system and to try to separate the overhead costs in regard to one part as against another.
I should like to commend Senator Murphy for his very helpful and constructive speech. I will not refer to what he said about conciliation machinery or any of the industrial relations, because, in present circumstances, I think it is best for us to leave to the Minister for Industry and Commerce the task he has undertaken in regard to the whole dispute now going on. I should not like to say anything on that subject at all at the moment, one way or the other. I express the hope with him that as C.I.E. improves, as its revenue increases and as it becomes more efficient, the system, taken as a whole, will produce economic results which will enable the workers to share the results of greater productivity with the management. That is one of the basic intentions of the Board of C.I.E. and I feel that it is very important to state that so that everybody can understand the position.
Mr. Childers: I was not suggesting that they would always have to wait. It is a very complex position in relation to comparative wages elsewhere. It is a complex matter and one cannot make a firm generalised statement about it because it is too complex for that. I disagree with him that the proportion of capital invested in the C.I.E., excluding the amount written off to turn-over, is unreasonable. The position in that regard is fairly satisfactory.
I should also say that it is Government  policy for State and semi-State companies to use the public transport system as much as possible. There have been negotiations between C.I.E. and the other State bodies concerned, which have been given encouragement by me, in order to ensure that there will be no unnecessary duplication of capital investment for transport as between one State company and another.
Senator Murphy raised a question also which I heard, too, in the Dáil. He asked why the airfields lose money and are allowed to lose money while C.I.E. must be made to pay. The answer is quite simple. Other companies use airfields besides our own. They are entrance and exit points for our air services. The airfields of Europe and England lose large sums. I should dearly love to make our airfields pay. It would be much better if they did. If the effect on the landing fees of air companies was such that it would reduce the number of people coming here as tourists and, place the companies in a difficult position financially, that would be unfortunate. It is because of European comparison and European conception of airfield management that the airfields here lose some money. In respect of both Dublin and Shannon, the expenses, as a percentage of the receipts, are highly satisfactory compared with the very large number of well-run airports in other countries.
Senator Donegan referred to the action of the Gárda Síochána in enforcing the Transport Acts. I should make it absolutely clear that their action has the full support of the Government. The 1958 Act provided for penalties and the Government are determined to enforce the Act in every particular.
Senator Quinlan thinks that by explaining the details of the improvements in C.I.E. accounts, he has, in fact, explained them away. The improvements quoted in my speech in the Dáil are accurate. They are partly accounted for by the reductions in outlay and provisions mentioned by the Senator and partly by improved methods and by substantial improvements  in traffic. The Senator did not bother to look at page 29 of the accounts and show the increased traffic that had been secured by C.I.E.
Mr. Childers: If he did, he would see that the improvement is taking place as a result of a number of factors—reductions in expenditure and increases in receipts. I should make it clear that I deprecate the statement of the Senator in regard to this whole matter. I have personal faith in the chairman and board of C.I.E. and I absolutely and specifically deny that the chairman of the board has reduced depreciation unwisely in order to produce a better result in the accounts. I absolutely deny that the decrease in expenses has been deliberately inserted into the accounts or cooked, if you like, for the sake of producing a good result. Naturally, as Minister for Transport and Power, when the accounts are presented to me, some of the questions which I or any other intelligent Minister would ask the chairman are as follows: “Are you absolutely satisfied that you have allowed for sufficient depreciation? Are you absolutely satisfied that you have allowed for sufficient maintenance? Has the maintenance figure decreased due to the fact that railway lines have closed or that a large amount of maintenance is being completed and that as a result it so happens that for a particular year the maintenance expenses can come down?” I got a positive answer. The Government would not have appointed Dr. Andrews unless they felt that they could trust an answer of that kind and unless they felt that the answer was a genuine one, made in good faith and accurate.
In the current year, the receipts of the whole C.I.E. system are up by nearly £1,000,000 and may possibly reach the £1,000,000 mark, other things being equal by March 31st. I should also point out that the superannuation costs are calculated on a strictly actuarial basis. There is no fiddling with the superannuation costs,  any more than there has been fiddling with other expenses.
I have only five minutes more and it would be impossible for me to deal with the general position. I think the best thing I can say in the short period I now have is that nobody, reading the Beddy Report on which the 1938 Act was based, could be under any illusion in regard to the action taken by C.I.E. The whole basis of the report presupposed that there was no sanctity in a rail system. Let me make it clear that I must part company with all members of the House who have a feeling of sanctity about any rail system. The basis of the report was that there should be no favouritism for rail or road services. In many areas, a road service is superior to a rail service and in other areas, a rail service is superior to a road service.
I do not believe that an area in the long run loses prestige if a railway closes down, because it is not used to any great extent and loses money. I do not believe it loses prestige in an area where the vast majority of the people do not like to go from a station to their homes in a different vehicle from the train and back again. Where they want to stop at a great number of places and want a frequent service over a widely scattered area, a bus service is the most modern, up to date and satisfactory type of service.
That is the declared opinion of the Beddy Committee and nobody who passed the 1958 Act through the Houses of the Oireachtas could be under any illusion in regard to that attitude of impartiality as between road and rail, the provisions for compensation, the grave decision that the whole service must pay in five years and the decision, taken for the first time, to allow C.I.E. to close railway lines found to be uneconomic. All the major features of the Act show that the Beddy Committee's general statements in regard to transport were to be followed and followed in practice as a result of the new management of C.I.E. and the new provisions under the Act.
That is the real truth about the matter. I do not see any special purpose  in having a rail service if the traffic is thin. Rail services are for long-haul traffic and heavy bulk goods consignment. They deal with peak traffic at certain times of the year which could not possibly be dealt with by road traffic. They are for that purpose. The remaining system of C.I.E., I believe, is going to be a great success but it had to be pruned of its more uneconomic lines. Railway lines must be tailored to suit modern conditions. Therefore, we could argue for a very long time over this whole business. The main point is that it is out of date to suggest that a railway line carries with it a sort of prestige and value, regardless of the traffic on it or its economic circumstances. In the modern world, that is no longer true.
Mr. O'Quigley: Do I understand that in spite of the arrangements which I understood to be made at 9 o'clock this evening, upon the basis of which I was engaged on other business of a Parliamentary character and in spite of the fact that the Minister has produced  a whole lot of statistics which make but a mocking obeisance of the facts, am I not now to be permitted to make my contribution to the debate? Has the debate now concluded?
Dr. O'Donovan: The Minister told us that the receipts were up £1,000,000 this year. What then is the explanation of the fact that the provision in next year's Estimates is over £1,000,000 for this company?
An Cathaoirleach: The motion under discussion was moved by Senator Ó Maoláin. It was intended that the discussion would enable Senator J.L. O'Sullivan to refer to the matters in which he was specifically interested.
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