Nenagh Rail Action Group calls for train time changes
NENAGH Rail Action Group has responded to a report before Christmas that the evening commuter train from Limerick to Nenagh stops at Birdhill because there are no passengers on board for Nenagh.
The report in the Irish Independent quoted Iarnrod Eireann manager Jim Gallivan as saying that at least once a fortnight the 17.45 train turned back at Birdhill and that it made economic sense for it to do so.
However, Nenagh Rail action Group chair Cllr Virginia O'Dowd said that the timing of the service had been discussed with Iarnrod Eireann earlier this year as a survey they carried out on the morning commuter service showed a majority of people favoured a later return time.
"In many cases, flexi-time allows people to catch the 16.45 back from Limerick, but, for those people not on flexi-time, our survey showed they preferred a train at around 18.20. Some of these people are travelling in by train and coming home by bus. We met the chief executive of Iarnrod Eireann, Dick Fearn, and his regional manager, Jim Meade, in Thurles and gave them a copy of our survey, which they said they would examine," she said.
Cllr O'Dowd called on Iarnrod Eireann to increase speeds along the line, as promised following the relaying of much of the track, and to relaunch the service.
"The initial commuter service in 2008 was dogged with late trains and technical difficulties," she said, saying that the group also favoured a mid-morning service out of Limerick to allow for greater flexibility for travel between Limerick and towns along the line.
She didn't believe that there would be a move to close the line as "from our discussions with Iarnrod Eireann we know that management are committed to maintaining services along the Ballybrophy line".
Cllr O'Dowd said that the commuter service alone was not going to keep the line open in itself, and the line needed marketing to attract day trippers from Dublin, to be used for match specials for big GAA and rugby games in Limerick and Dublin, and also needed local marketing to encourage potential local users to visit towns on the line.
"We launched a Train and Dine promotion this autumn, in conjunction with local restaurants, to attract people from Limerick to Nenagh for early bird menus, but we are still waiting for the offers to be launched on the Irish Rail website.
"They say they are waiting for all the improvement works to be finished and for their engineers to sign off on increased speeds before doing so, but the initiative will die if it is not uploaded soon," she said.
In the meantime, Nenagh Rail Action Group continued to organise activities on the line, she said.
For example, we brought around 50 people to Limerick on Ice this Tuesday, January 4, for which we received great help from Iarnrod Eireann and Limerick on Ice. Last year, we organised a walking tour to Castleconnell in association with Nenagh Walkers Club, and a day trip from Nenagh to Galway by train to mark the reopening of the Limerick to Galway line, she said.