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West=On=Track - News

Restored Limerick rail link hailed a success

Irish Times
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 west.

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 Christmas.

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 region."

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 sufficient demand.

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 Athenry."

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 Ennis.

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.








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