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Packed trains leave many passengers sitting on floor

Trains from Athenry into Galway City are so packed – with passengers sitting on the floor – that more carriages and longer platforms are needed, the Dáil has been told.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív said last week that a students’ union in Galway had contacted him in relation to “multiples reports” from students who get the train into the city from Athenry.

“It is often full or late and there have even been cases where students have been refused entry to the train as they did not have a ticket for that specific journey despite having a monthly ticket that permits them on the train.

“The [students’ union] assumed I had likely heard, which I had, and had heard it from many people, that the trains in and out of Galway are packed and the trains from Limerick and Dublin are similarly packed,” Deputy Ó Cuív said.

He told Minister of State Neale Richmond that there are 17 trains from Athenry to Galway.

“Some of those originate in Limerick and some originate from the Dublin direction. It has also been verified to me that the trains from Limerick are full when they get to Athenry and that the section of the line that was meant to carry no passengers was, according to Iarnród Éireann, the most rapidly growing line in terms of patronage in 2022. We will have to see what 2023 has brought but, by all records, this is absolutely true. We have a great success story.

“It is an awful tragedy that people cannot get on trains when they have paid for their tickets. It is a tragedy that when people want to take public transport, they find the service cannot accommodate them. It is important we sweat the assets.

“Put in simple terms, what can be done? The first thing is more carriages could be put on the trains. Longer trains provide better capacity. The second thing we need are longer platforms so that longer trains can be accommodated because, I understand, particularly on the Limerick line, one of the constraining factors is that the platforms are not long enough for six-carriage trains.

“Slightly more long term are more passing loops, and the most urgent place – it is in train as they are going for planning permission this year – is to get that passing loop between Athenry and Galway which will allow for a radical increase in the frequency of the trains.

“What we need is a train not every 40 minutes but down to every quarter of an hour in each direction in the long term. In the short term, will the Minister of State tell me what will be done to make sure that if a person turns up for the train, that person can get on the train?” asked Deputy Ó Cuív.

Minister Richmond said that as Deputy Ó Cuív was well aware, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan is not involved in the day-to-day operation of public transport.

He said Iarnród Éireann is “working towards a strategy for substantial enhancement of services on intercity routes in the short to medium term, including Dublin to Galway and Limerick to Galway”.

However, he said this would be subject to agreement with and funding by the National Transport Authority.

Minister Richmond said that on the Dublin-Galway line, a pre-Covid schedule is still operating, but Iarnród Éireann intends to build towards an hourly service in the coming months.

He added that nationally, up to 750 carriages are to be ordered over the coming decade; the first 95 will arrive in the middle of this year and enter service from 2025.

Kildare-based TD Seán Ó Ferghail interjected: “If I bought a new car tomorrow, I would not want to wait for six months before I could drive it.”

Deputy Ó Cuív asked what would be done to make sure that extra carriages can be deployed on the Limerick to Galway line.

“On that line people are literally sitting on the floor in the train,” he said.

Minister Richmond said he did not have the exact answer as to when the carriages would become available.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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