Rail passengers will not be ‘turfed out’ at Irish border, says transport minister

Ireland’s Transport Minister has said that rail passengers will not be “turfed out at the border” when travelling between Dublin and Belfast in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Shane Ross said that if the UK crashes out of the European Union, he is confident there will be a seamless transition and that rail and bus transport will continue to run on the same basis as it is now.

Detailing contingency plans, Mr Ross told the Oireachtas Transport Committee said that informal talks are continuing between his department and the British Government which he said is “conclusive enough” to ensure passengers are not disrupted.

“We will have a situation arranged by March 30 whereby passengers are accommodated,” he said.

Budget 2010 – Ireland
A train crossing a bog passes in front of a wind farm at Littleton in Co. Tipperary (Julien Behal/PA)

“There is going to a be huge amount of problems in a no-deal Brexit and we are trying to overcome them.”

He also assured committee members that passports will not be needed to travel between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

He added: “We are all aware of the strategic importance of keeping channels open and maintaining flows and linkages between people, communities, and businesses across the border.

“The regulatory framework applying at the provision of rail and bus services in this country are of the highest standard, this will not change.

“However, post-Brexit it will mean bus and rail services between Ireland and the UK will need to be managed on different legislative arrangements.

“My department has spoken to stakeholders, including public transport operators and these have served to underline the importance to address new scenarios.”

He told the committee that on a daily basis, there are over 300 cross-border bus journeys.

Subsided Railtracks
Rail workers on the route into Dublin’s biggest rail station, Connolly (Haydn West/PA)

This figure, he said, does not include once-off community related bus and coach services including those from Gaelic football or rugby clubs.

“The number of cross-border commercial journeys in 2017 is estimated to be just under two million,” the minister added.

He said that one of his department’s objectives is to ensure that the Enterprise rail and bus services would have the “absolute minimum amount of disruption”.

“I’m confident that with the talks going on between my department and the British government that we will establish a seamless transition in a no-deal Brexit situation,” he said.

Croke Park Stadium
Croke Park Stadium in Dublin (Chris Bacon/PA)

“There is enough evidence to suggest that the preliminary talks will reach enough agreement between companies involved so we will have trains running on the same basis.

“I don’t think you’re going to have passengers being turfed out at the border.”

He also said that 400,000 Green Cards are being printed for drivers to drive in Northern Ireland and the Republic which he said would be mandatory to carry.

He told the committee he was not sure whether motorists would be prosecuted for failing to carry the proof of insurance cards

“It’s up to insurance companies to communicate with people that they will need to carry Green Cards,” he said.

A number of TDs including Sinn Fein’s Imelda Munster and co-leader of the Social Democrats Catherine Murphy, expressed concerns about the lack of information and detail the minister had about Green Cards.

He also told the committee that serious challenges remain in aviation.

“They haven’t been resolved but they have certainly are less threatening than they were,” he said.

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