Navan commuters waiting on Dublin train for 25 years

Public rally hears calls for return of rail line between Co Meath town and central Dublin

Minister of State Damien English, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Meath County Council cathaoirleach Cllr Seán Drew, and Meath County Council chief executive Jackie Maguire at Navan train station. Photograph: Meath Chronicle

Minister of State Damien English, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Meath County Council cathaoirleach Cllr Seán Drew, and Meath County Council chief executive Jackie Maguire at Navan train station. Photograph: Meath Chronicle

 

Tim Cremin has been waiting for a train for 25 years.

“I suppose it is funny when you put it like that, but that’s it really,” he says.

He was among about 200 people who attended a rally in Navan on Saturday organised by the Meath on Track campaign, which wants the train line between Dublin and the town to be reopened.

He was one of a number of people present who exchanged experiences of leaving Navan before 6am to “beat the traffic” and get to their jobs some 50km away in Dublin. Many face paying road tolls in the region of €7 a day.

Mr Cremin works in Dublin city centre, having previously worked in Sandyford. Tolls on the M3 are €1.50, and if going to Sandyford there is at least another €2 to pay on the M50.

“If you are coming from Kells it is worse – there is another [€1.50] toll,” he says.

Some people leave early and take the old road through Dunshaughlin and Dunboyne, but cars are much more likely to be caught in traffic on that route.

“Some people do that,” says Siobhán O’Dowd, a nurse at the Mater hospital. “I see people driving in early and sleeping in their car until it is time to go into work, because if they leave home any later they will not make it through the traffic on time.”

Railway hub

Up to 1963, Navan was a railway hub with two stations, one of which had four platforms, and routes from Oldcastle through Navan to the Dublin-Belfast line, with another from Navan to Dublin via Clonsilla.

A freight line still operates from Tara Mines through Navan and on to the Dublin-Belfast route, and many at Saturday’s rally recalled trains taking GAA supporters from Navan to matches at Croke Park.

A line from Dublin (via Clonsilla) to the M3 Parkway opened in 2010 as “phase one” of the reopening of the Navan railway line. However, phase two – the 34km stretch to Navan – was shelved during the economic crash, dashing commuters’ hopes.

Meath on Track chairman and Aontú TD Peadar Tóibín told the rally there was hope for the reopening of the line because Tánaiste Leo Varadkar deviated from the Fine Gael “think-in” in Trim the previous week to have his photograph taken on the platform of the old Navan railway station.

Given that a review of the need for the line is due to be published next month, Mr Tóibín said the Fine Gael leader’s visit may have been significant.