Emergency funding for CIÉ agreed
The Cabinet has agreed to provide €36 million in emergency funding to State-owned transport group CIÉ to bolster its finances and avoid significant cuts in public transport services across the country.
This comes against a backdrop of a continuing fall in passenger numbers at Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, as well as rising fuel costs and cuts in its State subsidy.
“This funding is being allocated because we are conscious of the need to maintain the public transport service and because we recognise that the financial position of CIÉ is very difficult,” Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said yesterday.
The additional funding will take CIÉ subvention for 2012 to €278 million, when it was supposed to shrink due to exchequer constraints.
CIÉ received a subvention from the State of €265 million in 2011, which was due to fall to €242 million this year. The extra funding for CIÉ will result in a reduction in spending in other areas by the department. This will involve cutbacks or deferrals in capital spending in sport, tourism, other areas of public transport, smarter travel (including bicycle lanes) and maritime operations.
Mr Varadkar said it was a “hard decision, but a necessary one” to ensure that CIÉ “remains adequately funded for the immediate future”.
“CIÉ is loss-making as a group and its financial position is very difficult. The company has run up a substantial debt. However, we are working on a solution.”
The company has yet to publish its 2011 annual report and no financial details on its level of losses or borrowings were released yesterday.
The transport company made a loss of €53.6 million in 2010 and €77.7 million in 2009. CIÉ will be required to sell non-core assets to contribute to its shortfall in funding.
Assets under review include its fibre-optic cable network, which could be used for telecoms services, and various properties.
The company is also in talks with unions on cost-cutting programmes. Iarnród Éireann is seeking to reduce its headcount by up to 450, while Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus are in talks with their unions.