Tipperary rail campaigners welcome moves on engineer's report on local line
North Tipperary Community Rail Partnership has secured a commitment from Irish Rail to have an engineer’s report carried out on the Ballybrophy to Limerick rail line with a view to increasing train speeds along the track.
The group held an online meeting with Irish Rail CEO Jim Meade, along with other company managers, and among the issues raised was the fact that 31 miles of faster continuous welded track had been laid along the 52-mile route, but there had been no corresponding increase in speed.
The partnership welcomed this commitment for an engineer’s report as increased speeds as it will result in reduced travel times if properly implemented.
They said that Irish Rail had also agreed to propose to the National Transport Authority that an additional service run in the middle of the day.
The partnership has received cross-party support for developing the line, with the issue raised in the Dáil last week by Sinn Féin TDs Martin Martin Browne and Brian Stanley.
Deputy Browne told Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan that the timetable needed to be changed to suit commuters, and the slow service (which was faster back in 1962) could be improved by increasing the speed limit on the continuous welded section of the track. All of this would attract more commuters and have positive economic and social benefits for the region.
“What I took from his response is that while the level of service on the line is unsatisfactory, the low passenger numbers that result from this deem it unsuitable for any further attention,” he said. Deputy Browne said the reply “doesn’t make sense.”
Deputy Browne said that Iarnród Éireann will continue to engage with the community along the line to examine the potential to enhance services.
He also raised the axing of Bus Éireann Expressway services from next year.
Nenagh SF representative Damian O’Donoghue, who attended an earlier meeting Deputy Browne had with the partnership, said: “Concerns that people have locally about their ability to get to third level institutions, medical appointments and to work were brought up and we hope that action will be taken in the near future on both fronts - the bus service and rail line’’.
Meanwhile, the partnership said that they were “disappointed” that the Minister was not “up to speed” with the reasons why the line remained a lightly used line.
They are to invite Minister Ryan to a meeting so that they can explain to him directly how consistently poor promotion and erratic running of services had downgraded this regional line.
“The existing timetable, which has been in place for over half a century, simply does not meet the demands of the communities it serves,” they said.
The group is to meet the chief executive of Tipperary County Council, Joe MacGrath, in December to highlight the importance of the line to Tipperary.