Restored Limerick rail
link hailed a success
Monday April 12th 2004
by Tim O'Brien
Iarnród Éireann has said the success of its
recently rebuilt Limerick to Ennis commuter service bodes
well for the extension of rail services along key routes in
The commuter service along the Ennis to Limerick line,
the company's first closed passenger service to be reopened,
has seen rapid growth of up to 200 percent in customer
numbers since the rebuilding of the line was completed last
Timetables on the 20-mile route have been extended to
include 14 trains a day, and the company said it was
prepared to consider further extensions.
The commuter service between Ennis and Limerick,
originally part of the Western rail corridor between Sligo
and Cork, was closed in 1976 and reopened as a skeletal
service in the early 1980s with one train in the early
morning and one in late evening.
Iarnród Éireann has invested more than
euro13 million in restoration of the route in the past three
years in a move the company said "is an indication of the
confidence Iarnród Éireann has in the Mid West
Mr Frank Dawson, of the Galway County Development Board,
has called for the establishment of other suburban services
particularly on the line between Athenry and Galway with a
new station at Oranmore.
Speaking to The Irish Times yesterday, Mr Dawson said the
case of the Limerick-Ennis line demonstrated "commuter lines
outside Dublin" could be reopened because there was
Mr Dawson said the first train into Galway city in the
morning was not until 10.10 a.m. This left a prime
opportunity to use the Galway main line out to Athenry for
an early morning commuter service, stopping at Oranmore,
even on a pilot basis.
He said the volume of car traffic into Galway through
Oranmore each morning indicated that the commuter service
would be well supported. He suggested a shuttle service
could operate the five-mile route between Galway city and
Oranmore throughout the day.
"There is also the N17, which is the most heavily
trafficed road west of Kildare. It brings in huge amounts of
cars from Tuam to Galway. The railway from Tuam could be the
second stem commuter route bringing passengers to Galway via
Advocates of the reopening of railway lines in the west,
which include in the Western Development Commission and the
BMW Regional Assembly, have also called for the reopening of
commuter lines to Sligo from Collooney and to Athenry from
A group of private investors has also put forward a
proposal to run a spur from the Limerick Ennis route to
serve Shannon Town Centre and Shannon airport.
The composition and terms of reference of a working group
to consider the possibilities of reopening parts of the
Western Rail Corridor will be announced by the Minister for
Transport, Mr Brennan, shortly.