MEP Grace O’Sullivan welcomes open discussion about European Sail-Rail with (r-l) MEP Ciarán Cuffe, Green Party Cork Representative Honore Kamegni and Rail Blogger Jon Worth
With the Rugby World Cup 2023 starting this Friday in France, Ireland and France are taking another step towards the launch of a combined “SailRail” ticket between the two countries from 2024. Travellers will now be able to book their ferry and train tickets together from Cork and Dublin ports, connecting to the French harbours of Cherbourg and Roscoff.
This follows an event which took place on Saturday 2nd September in the office of MEP Grace O’Sullivan in collaboration with Dublin MEP Ciarán Cuffe and Rail Blogger Jon Worth exploring the successes and failures of Sail Railing around Europe.
MEP Cuffe and Jon Worth are seasoned European rail users, utilising this greener method of travelling regularly. Before the event in O’Sullivan’s Cork office, they had travelled from Brussels to France and then by ferry to Ringaskiddy Port.
MEP Cuffe shared his experience of using sail-rail as a commuting option for his work in the European Parliament in Brussels. While this method is low carbon, when compared to flying, he noted that there are barriers such as higher costs and inadequate travel infrastructure to-and-from ports.
Jon Worth, who has travelled to all European border rail stations, says that the infrastructure is there but, in many towns it is no longer being used. He shared that rail services bare too frequently out of sync, with hours between connecting trains, and a lack of timetables in some countries.
While the event was very much focused on low-carbon transport at a European level, people in attendance made comparisons to the state of public transport around Ireland. Long delays, difficult to find timetables and unreliable buses were some of the comparisons made in the afternoon. Transport For Ireland is combating this by launching a new bus service in Waterford, which will improve connectivity between the towns of Youghal and Dungarvan. This new bus service is being rolled out from Monday 11th September 2023 and will operate six return services daily, stopping at many villages in between the two destinations, improving accessibility and connectivity for many people.
MEP O’Sullivan said after the event that “it is obvious that the people of Waterford are keen to use public transport, but it needs to be improved and made more reliable. I am hopeful that the upcoming rail and bus developments will be a massive improvement for the county, and encourage more people to travel sustainably”.