18 Aug 2022

Tipperary rail campaigners say development faces 'resistance' from the NTA

Tipperary rail campaigners say development faces 'resistance' from the NTA

Tipperary rail campaigners say development faces 'resistance' from the NTA

The only resistance to further development of services along the Ballybrophy to Limerick railway line is coming from the National Transport Authority, according to campaigners to get better services on the line.

The Ballybrophy line serves Roscrea, Cloughjordan, Nenagh, Birdhill and Castleconnell in Limerick.

Members of the North Tipperary Community Rail Partnership met Nenagh councillors at the Nenagh Municipal District Council July meeting to give them an update on where the 17-year campaign is at present.

Edward Kelly told councillors that Irish Rail was “very supportive” of their aims, but the NTA was now a stumbling block.
“We need you to contact them,” he said.

Mr Kelly said that the campaign had received some positive news this year.

“Once the final track renewal works are completed on November 20 that will see the end of the long closures that have negatively impacted the line. This project will deliver a modern continuous welded rail track, a safer railway with faster line speeds and shorter journey times,” he said.

Mr Kelly said that once the track renewal project was completed, Irish Rail had committed, where appropriate, that the speeds trains can travel on the line will be increased from 30mph to 50mph.

The timetable will be revised to reflect more frequent, faster, shorter journey times in 2023 subject to NTA approval and funding, he said.

Mr Kelly told councillors that the revised timetable will be a more passenger friendly version with an earlier morning train from Roscrea and Cloughjordan to Limerick and a later train departing Limerick in the evening.

“We also believe that Irish Rail are considering a project to resurface the car park of Cloughjordan railway station and some renovation works will be carried out on the station house with a long term goal of making Cloughjordan into a commuter railway station.”

The campaign met Irish Rail CEO Jim Meade and the CEO expected Iarnród Éireann to have sufficient drivers based in Limerick from 2023 to support the introduction of additional services, such as the middle of the day service the NTCRP was campaigning for.

However, Mr Meade had made it very clear that Iarnród Éireann required support and approval from the NTA through the annual PSO grant to support the introduction of an additional middle of the day service.

“This is why it is of vital importance that our local political representatives in the Nenagh Municipal District use their significant political capital and take this issue directly to the NTA for their attention on behalf of communities and voters living along the line,” he said.

Campaign chair Virginia O’Dowd said they had moved from trying to maintain the line to developing the line.

She said the line had been raised at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, as well as in the Southern Assembly by Cllr Michael O’Meara, and through Parliamentary Questions by TDs Alan Kelly, Michael Lowry and Jackie Cahill and Martin Browne.

“We are lucky to have Deputy Lowry on the Transport Committee and that it is chaired by Limerick TD Kieran O’Donnell,” she said. Deputy Brian Leddin of Limerick is also on the committee.

“The Limerick to Ballybrophy line is one of the most discussed lines in the country, and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan is very familiar with it,” she said.

Ms O’Dowd hoped that funding could be got through the Committee of the Regions in Brussels to help fund the closure of level crossings on the line, particularly into Limerick.

If this were done, then journey times would be around 45 minutes.

District Cathaoirleach Cllr Hughie McGrath proposed asking Cllr Michael Murphy, head of the Irish delegation on the EU committee to a meeting.

He also backed a meeting with councillors in the Castleconnell local electoral area.

Cllr Joe Hannigan said the campaign had kept the line alive and agreed that eliminating the level crossings was key to allowing the line work efficiently.

Cllr Michael O’Meara said that the potential for the line was huge as the “era of the car is on the way out”.

Cllr Ger Darcy agreed that the timetable and the speed were “killing the line”.

“Because of your persistence we have a railway line,” said Cllr Seamus Morris. “I see a huge future for that train, particularly for Nenagh.”
Cllr Fiona Bonfield highlighted that Tipperary County Council had made a submission to the recent rail review and that rail “ticks all the right boxes”.

Cllr John “Rocky” McGrath also agreed that the line will be a major benefit to the town.

District Manager Marcus O’Connor said that it was critical to get the journey time down to 45 minutes.

He said that the council was pushing for Nenagh railway station to become a transport hub, akin to models on continental Europe.

“The station is ideal for that because of its location,” he said.

To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.