END OF THE LINE
Last ever journey on Rosslare to Waterford railway
UP TO 150 PASSENGERS were onboard for the last ever journey of the Waterford to Rosslare train on Saturday evening.
The service, serving villages across south Wexford, finally came to an end on Saturday after 104 years, following Irish Rail's successful application to the National Transport Authority (NTA) to suspend their unprofitable operation on the line indefinitely.
There was sadness and nostalgia in equal measure at Waterford's Plunkett Station on Saturday afternoon as a large number of passengers arrived for the final departure at 5.20p.m.
Train driver Michael Hanrahan, who has worked with the railways for 36 years, said it was 'a sad day'. He was not alone in that assertion, as many people from across Co Wexford made the journey to Waterford to make the last train journey on the line.
Earlier that morning around 50 people had made the last trip from Rosslare to Waterford, but their numbers swelled three-fold for the return journey that evening via Campile, Ballycullane, Welling
tonbridge, Bridgetown and Rosslare Strand, before arriving at the last stop in Rosslare Harbour.
The number of carriages was increased from the normal two to four to cope with the extra demand and the journey also took longer than usual with lengthy stops at each station to allow people to disembark and take photos.
The 150 passengers were not enough to fill the train though and Mayor of Wexford Joe Ryan, a prominent member of the Save the Rail campaign group, criticised the presence of two gardaí on the train for the journey.
Cllr Ryan, who did not travel on the train (he had gone in the opposite direction that morning), also said the train was run in ' lockdown mode', with the four carriages locked individually and passengers unable to access the toilets.
He called on Irish Rail to 'explain why it was necessary to ask that gardaí should effectively police shoppers and train buffs as they made their way home from Waterford'.
Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny said the reason for the gardaí was 'simply that we anticipated there would be very big numbers seeking to travel on the train and we felt out staff may need assistance with any overflow'.
Mr Kenny pointed out that this did not transpire and there was 'a nice, congenial atmosphere' on the train for the final journey on the Waterford to Rosslare line, which he described as 'poignant in its own way'. The train has now been replaced by an
extended Bus Eireann service across south Wexford, which came into effect on Monday morning. Existing rail season tickets will be accepted on the bus services and fares on the buses.
Irish Rail employed 22 staff on the Waterford to Rosslare line and the majority have opted for voluntary severance packages over
redeployment to other lines.