MEMORANDUM FROM THE CONFEDERATION OF IRISH INDUSTRY
This submission is in response to a letter dated 2 April from the Committee asking the views of the Confederation on the operation of CIE.
The main emphasis in this submission is on freight transport services provided by CIE to industrial users. Comments on passenger services are also offered particularly in relation to urban passenger transport.
The main freight services provided by CIE consist of:
(i)rail services for point-to-point bulk traffic such as fertilizers, cement, beer and point-to-point container traffic
(ii)sundries services on rail throughout the country
(iii)road freight services.
General Comment on Freight Services
The Confederation has for many years advocated a liberal and flexible approach to transport policy to allow road transport services by the private haulage industry to expand while at the same time enabling CIE to provide a rail and/or road or rail freight services as appropriate. The past policies which allowed CIE a monopoly of transport services to protect railways has failed to achieve these objectives. It follows that change is necessary to allow private haulage to provide a wider range of services at economic cost. While recognising that the Road Transport Acts of 1971 and 1978 moved towards this policy, the Confederation believes that a faster development of private haulage sector is essential. Industry notes that while CIE has the largest road transport fleet in the country most of the fleet is engaged in serving the rail freight traffic and very little is offered for normal door-to-door road transport operations. At the same time, private haulage has been discouraged resulting in a very high proportion of own-account transport which is very often uneconomical.
The Confederation believes, therefore, that the present role of CIE in road freight transport services should be reviewed in the context of the 1978 Act and particularly in future legislation which it is hoped will be more liberal and more in line with transport policy in Europe as a whole.
Comments on Rail Services
(a) Rail Services for bulk traffic
Industries using CIE rail services for bulk traffic such as fertilisers and containers have said that CIE provide an efficient service for this type of traffic. There are no serious complaints. Contact is usually maintained between CIE and individual customers. In general, the rail service seems best suited to this type of movement particularly where storage is also required.
(b) Sundries Traffic
The Confederation is very dissatisfied with the level of services provided by CIE for sundries rail traffic. Shippers of small quantities for delivery to a large number of destinations have a very limited choice as between own-account transport and the CIE rail/road system. The service provided by CIE up to now has been most unsatisfactory. Unless a satisfactory level of service at economic cost can be provided, a small parcel service provided by the private sector should be developed without delay. This will require further action by Government under the 1978 Transport Act. Industrial firms who have or who are using the CIE sundries rail service have highlighted a number of defects including:
(i) Excessive delays in delivery from point of collection to destination. In some instances, it was noted that goods can be delivered to London faster than internal journey within Ireland.
(ii) A high instance of pilferage and damage.
(iii) While package deals are available, the cost when related to quality of service is very high.
(iv) Diffficulty in dealing with a very large organisation.
Road Freight Services
While the bulk of road freight services provided by CIE are linked to the rail services, industrial users find that where direct road services are offered, rates are higher than own-account or private haulage; service tends to be inflexible in coping with immediate demands or in problems arising during transit. Many firms suggest that such problems would not arise in a competitive market where companies were competing on a purely commercial basis. On the other hand, firms who have contracts with CIE for road services (apart from rail services) find that the service is efficient and competitive.
Businessmen using the main line train services between major cities expressed satisfaction with the general level of service. Some adjustments to frequency of services would, however, provide greater opportunity for business executives to use the train rather than car. However, differences in the level and quality of service comparing Dublin/Cork with Dublin/Galway or Dublin/Waterford are noted. If service levels on these routes could be improved, it is estimated that additional business traffic could be generated.
Urban Passenger Transport
The Confederation while recognising problems encountered by CIE in heavily congested city transport, nonetheless finds the level of service unsatisfactory. The following points might be noted:
(i) The condition of transport facilities on urban train services and the frequency of service is unsatisfactory.
(ii) Bus services particularly in Dublin city are unreliable.
(iii) There have been a series of disruption of services in recent years because of industrial disputes which tends to discourage commuters and other users from switching to public transport from private cars despite the problems caused by congestion.
(iv) The Confederation believes that greater priority should be given to public transport in Dublin but advocates that the provision should not be exclusive to public enterprise. Competition from private operators would help to expand the scope of bus services for example experience of competition between public and private sectors in shipping services shows that both have a role to play for the benefit of users and the economy. It should also be noted that private bus operators are already providing services to and from other towns in Ireland.
While recognising the problems which CIE have in providing services for freight on rail/road and for passenger services, it is suggested that action should be taken to rationalise services and upgrade the level of service. CIE obviously suffers from the problem of being a very large organisation required to provide a range of services at economic cost which have a social and commercial content. It is suggested that the present requirement to provide such a wide range of services through one organisation should be re-examined. In addition, the development of private commercial services whether for passengers or freight should be actively encouraged where these can be seen to be more efficient. Finally, the Confederation recognises the need to provide a social service at a subsidised cost. The cost of and the need for providing such services whether passenger or freight should be highlighted and separated from the normal commercial criteria on which transport services might otherwise be based.
24 April 1979.