27 Sept 2022

North Tipp Rail Partnerships three asks of authorities

Up to 70% of the Ballybrophy - Limerick line has already been up-graded to cater for higher speeds, but the speed review has not been undertaken yet.

North Tipperary Community Rail Partnership has received the backing of the local Municipal District Council following a meeting with the local authority this week.

Chairperson of the Rail Partnership - former Labour Party Councillor Virginia O'Dowd - presented a proposal of three short term goals to the meeting which was held by Zoom and which also had representatives of the National Transport Authority in attendance.

Those were: A review of the speed of the line between Ballybrophy and Limerick; The appointment of a regional manager for the line and district; and the intorduction of a mid-day service on the line.

The Chairperson outlined the present situation with the line, which has been closed completely for the time being as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions - the two lines in Tipperary (Limeirck Junction to Waterford) are the only two in the country in this situation, with most others being reduced to 25% capacity, she said, and she described this as being an indication of the level of regard for the line by authorities.

The meeting heard that up to 70% of the Ballybrophy - Limerick line has already been up-graded to cater for higher speeds, but the speed review has not been undertaken yet. The line has recently been the subject of three discussions at the Joint Oireachtas Transport Committee meeting, members were told.

If the line is to remain viable, the timetable must be revised and made more user friendly, according to Ms O'Dowd who added that the committee has now been broadened to include all counties serviced by the rail line.

Mr Tim Gaston of the NTA said that unless a proposal comes from Irish Rail, the NTA cannot do anything about up-grading the timetable. Few railway lines break even, he said, but that does not mean that they should not try to find ways of improving the service and attracting greater numbers. Admitting that the notion of appointing a regional manager for the line had never cropped up, he promised to give it some thought.

Mr Gaston also referred to the Commuting Ireland initiative which is part of the programme for government - an in-depth survey is currently underway to gauge public transport connectivity in each county, from regional towns - small towns and villages. This work will be completed before the year end, he said, and each locality can then be judged against the target level of coverage.

There were further contributions from other stakeholders and members of the council, with Councillor Seamie Morris, Cathaoirleach of the Municipal District summing up and agreeing that the appointment of a regional manager would be a major step forward for the line, which should be better utilised, he said.

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