Figures showing a drop in passenger numbers along the Ballybrophy line have been disputed by a community group that promotes the route.
According to figures released this week there was a drop of around 1,000 passengers on the line in 2013, down from 24,000 to around 23,000. The Ballybrophy line serves Ballybrophy, Roscrea, Cloughjordan, Nenagh, Birdhill, Castleconnell and Limerick.
“Reports of a drop in passenger numbers obscure the truth that a large number of people use the line,” said Duncan Martin, Cloughjordan, a member of Nenagh Community Rail Partnership.
While he admitted that the current schedule was not appropriate for daily commuters, he said that a wide range of people of all ages use the service on an occasional basis.
“Co-operation between Irish Rail and community groups often attract large numbers of passengers,” he said, pointing out that this year’s Limerick on Ice trip organised by the group attracted 340 passengers from December 29 to December 31.
“This shows what can be done with more inventive marketing and we will be working with Irish Rail to put on similar events,” he said.
Meanwhile, Irish Rail’s Limerick business development manager Jim Gallivan told the Tipperary Star that, in general, the majority of journeys are to and from Limerick and Dublin with 25 per cent of journeys to Limerick and 60 per cent to Dublin.
“The numbers travelling to these destinations have remained constant. There has been a small drop in number of passengers travelling between stations on the branch line.
“We have seen a 20 per cent increase in online bookings as more customers are taking advantage of the €9.99 one-way online fare to Dublin. This fare is subject to availability, but is generally available if booked up to three days in advance of travel. In an effort to stimulate demand on the Nenagh branch we are extending the availability of our €6 Saturday saver fare to Limerick so that it is now available Monday to Saturday on the morning service to Limerick. This is a significant saving on the standard day return fare of €13.70 from Nenagh to Limerick,” he said.