Irish Rail told to come up with rescue plan for loss-making Galway-Limerick line

Route was reopened in 2010 at a cost of more than €106 million

Iarnród Éireann Rail has been told to come up with a plan to tackle one of the biggest loss-making train services in the country. The Galway-Limerick route, which reopened in 2010, is continuing to lose passengers, and Minister of State at the Department of Transport Alan Kelly has told Irish Rail to get the service back on track. However, he ruled out closing down the route which was reopened at a cost of more than €106 million.

Road vs rail
Since then, however, potential passengers have voted with their feet and are opting to use road transport instead, because it is quicker and cheaper.

A report by the National Transport Authority described the service as unattractive, slow, infrequent and costly. Compared to road travel, the train route is 20km longer, journey times are almost half an hour longer and speed is restricted due to 35 level crossings on the route.

While almost 250,000 passengers travelled on the route in 2011, the vast majority used the train as a commuter service, between Limerick and Ennis and between Athenry and Galway. Fewer than 35,000 made the trip between Ennis and Athenry.


Mr Kelly has made no secret of his concerns about the uptake of the service .

“The numbers aren’t what we would like. I have spoken to the chief executive of Irish Rail with a view to looking at various different strategies to encourage more to use the line.

Mr Kelly stressed that there was no question of shutting down the line.