Irish Rail would be very much in favour of developing a park and ride service from Athenry into the heart of Galway city – once the Gort to Tuam motorway is completed.
This would involve the provision of an additional rail track between Athenry and Galway – currently rail services are provided on a single track which is already fully utilised during peak times.
However, while Iarnród Éireann would be very supportive of a park and ride facility in Athenry, they have stated that financial constraints prevent them to double-track the rail line from Galway city outwards.
But Galway County Council are now being asked to pressurise the Department of Transport and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) to provide funding for such a service – and particularly in view of the traffic chaos that has been occurring in and around the city for the past couple of weeks.
Athenry’s Cllr Peter Feeney said that the double-tracking of the line into the city is part of the County Development Plan and added that Galway County Council should be putting pressure on the Department for funding to ensure that this happens.
“As can be witnessed over the past couple of weeks, it is imperative that we take as many cars as possible out of the city. That is why a park and ride service from Athenry has to receive serious consideration. Everyone thinks it is a good idea and it has to be progressed.
“From the information I am receiving, there will be no outer bypass for Galway city within the next ten or twelve years and that is why park and ride has to be a viable option.
“It is also important that if such a service is provided to the city centre, then there is an adequate bus service to the industrial estates,” Cllr Feeney added.
Recently, An Taisce, through its Chairman Derrick Hambleton, called on CIE to progress the concept of a passenger rail service that would facilitate workers travelling from the city to Oranmore and onto Athenry. He even called for an electrified rail system to be put in place.
In response, Don Cunningham, Infrastructure Manager with Irish Rail said that there was no funding available in the short to medium term to double-track the line between Athenry and Galway but were actively working to retain this option of doing so in the long term.
He said that capacity on the single line into Galway is fully utilised during the morning and afternoon peak times. “Significant improvements could be achieved with the doubling of the track from Athenry,” he said.
“Usage of this section could grow significantly when the Gort to Tuam motorway is completed thus adding the benefits of a park and ride location at Athenry with a frequent rail service into the heart of Galway city,” he added.