More fuel being stockpiled for State’s buses and trains for no-deal Brexit

Iarnrod Eireann adding to more than three months of fuel to ensure ‘security of supply’

Billy Gilpin, director of train operations at Iarnród Éireann said the company normally kept two months of fuel supply for CIE’s buses and trains. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Billy Gilpin, director of train operations at Iarnród Éireann said the company normally kept two months of fuel supply for CIE’s buses and trains. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

More than three months of fuel supply is being stockpiled for State-run buses and trains to cope with potential shortages arising in the weeks after Brexit.

Billy Gilpin, director of train operations at Iarnród Éireann, told the Seanad’s special committee on Brexit that it normally kept two months of fuel supply for CIE’s buses and trains but is taking additional contingency measures should there be possible disruptions when the UK is scheduled to leave the EU on October 31st.

“We currently hold in excess of this level with approximately three months’ supply, and intend to further increase these levels to ensure security of fuel supply for rail and bus services for any issues that could potentially arise in the early weeks of a Brexit,” Mr Gilpin told the Special Select Seanad Committee on Brexit.

He reassured senators that there would be no disruption to the Enterprise train between Dublin and Belfast, run by Iarnród Éireann and Northern Ireland’s Translink, in the wake of a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Gilpin said Translink was “well advanced” in obtaining approval from the Irish railway regulator to be licensed as “a railway undertaking” in Ireland should the UK leave the EU without a deal.

If the Northern Irish company was not licensed by the end of next month, Iarnród Éireann had developed proposals where the Enterprise train would operate under the Irish rail company’s licence, he said.

‘Half-baked’

Aidan Flynn, general manager of Freight Transport Association, described the recently announced “Operation Purge” plan to avoid Brexit-related traffic congestion at Dublin Port as “half-baked” given that it failed to include details of where truck drivers could park and wait for congestion to ease.

“Given the fact that trucks travel from all over Ireland to Dublin Port, one would expect a more detailed and thought-out plan to take account of the lack of facilities currently available for drivers,” he said.

Truck drivers need to be told about the length of delays they can expect, he said. There also needed to be welfare facilities and rest areas for drivers given “the inevitability of delays” on arrival at ports from Britain.

The National Transport Authority said it would support the EU granting Ireland permission to agree alternative arrangements with the UK that would permit cross-Border coach and bus services by Northern Irish operators in the Border region - similar to operators crossing the Italian, German and Swiss borders.

NTA chief executive Anne Graham said it strongly favoured the EU’s no-deal contingency regulations being extended to allow regular bus services to continue until July 30th, 2020 and cabotage – the transport of passengers between two places in the same country by a Northern operator – for six months after Brexit.

‘Blue channel’

Cork Airport managing director Niall MacCarthy, who is the executive at airports operator DAA managing the response to Brexit, told the committee that passengers arriving from the UK will have to use the “green channel” in a no-deal scenario - rather than the “blue channel” as they usually do.

It would be the responsibility of passengers to ensure they are in compliance with allowances on duty-free and tax-free goods, which come into effect after the UK leaves the EU.

He said the “greatest risk” for Irish aviation from a no-deal Brexit is the “wider macro-economic impacts” such as the loss of 10,000 tourism jobs and more than one million fewer British tourists every year and the loss of €380 million a year in revenue.

Mr MacCarthy assured the committee that there would be no change for British passport holders arriving at Irish airports after Brexit; they would continue to have their passport scanned, like other travellers arriving from EU countries, and would not be subjected to any checks or questions asked of non-EU visitors.

DAA is publishing “Don’t panic” leaflets advising travellers what to do in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Glenn Carr, general manager of Rosslare Europort, which is operated by CIE, said the port was talking to French, Belgian, Spanish and Dutch ports and various shipping lines about new direct sea routes.

Rosslare, the country’s second largest port, could serve as a “release valve” after Brexit to reduce some of the pressure on Dublin Port and take additional ships, he said.