Galway rail route beats expectations

Tue, May 4, 2010, 01:00

PASSENGER TRAFFIC on the first phase of the Western Rail Corridor has exceeded expectations, Iarnród Éireann said yesterday.

A spokeswoman for the company said 16,000 journeys were made in the first month of the new Limerick-Galway service, which has been restored at a cost of €106.5 million.

The service was reintroduced after 34 years on March 29th.

“The first month’s operations have exceeded expectations, with significant demand experienced from day one,” the spokeswoman said.

Colman Ó Raghallaigh of West on Track said the performance on the new rail line “has confounded the critics”.

“We believe that, given the success of phase one, there is now no further excuse for prevarication as far as continuing with the next phases to Tuam and Claremorris.”

The Iarnród Éireann spokeswoman said: “The 16,000 passenger journeys recorded are on top of the existing 14,400 monthly journeys on the Limerick-Ennis service, meaning the through route has seen over 30,000 passenger journeys in its first month.

“This is a strong and encouraging start for this new service. While the initial interest was a great start, we are now seeing daily demand being sustained.

“There is little doubt that, as summer approaches, new demand – in the form of domestic and overseas tourists – will also see new rail customers taking to the line.”

The reopened line delivers a direct Galway to Limerick service and serves Limerick, Ennis, Athenry and Galway and new stations at Sixmilebridge, Gort, Ardrahan and Craughwell.

The passenger numbers comes in spite of an Iarnród Éireann business case anticipating losses of €2.4 million per annum in the new service, while a Government-commissioned study has stated that the line’s “cost-benefit analysis would suggest that the scheme is not good value for money and should not have gone ahead”.

Before the line was opened, Iarnród Éireann said the number of passengers anticipated in the business case would be exceeded.

Iarnród Éireann said: “It is an important piece of infrastructure, connecting two gateway and one hub under the National Spatial Strategy. The line will require subvention, but the investment was made on that basis.”

Mr Ó Raghallaigh said: “Clearly we are pleased but not surprised at the excellent performance of the railway to date. Anyone who knew anything about the movement of people in the west of Ireland could easily have predicted this.

“Indeed, the railway is so successful that there is a clear need for an additional evening service out of Galway after six o’clock. And we believe that Iarnród Éireann is examining the possibilities regarding the provision of such an extra ‘commuter’ service.”