independent

Thursday 5 December 2019

Tunnel vision no rail line service lacks innovation

Rail passengers embarking at Enniscorthy Train Station. There are no plans for any major changes on the Rosslare to Dublin route
Rail passengers embarking at Enniscorthy Train Station. There are no plans for any major changes on the Rosslare to Dublin route
Tom Enight, CEO, Wexford County Council
Barry Kenny, Irish Rail

David Looby at Wexford County Council’s meeting

Commuters are going to have to continue to put up with substandard railway cars and limited access to Dublin via train.

This was the message that councillors heard about the future of the Rosslare Europort to Dublin line having been briefed by Irish Rail press officer Barry Kenny.

Submissions were made by Wexford County Council CEO Tom Enright for improved train carriages and a fresh look at the train service - suggesting commuters disembark the train at Bray, before accessing one of the frequent Dart trains into the city centre.

Mr Kenny said there are no plans for any major changes on the 170km train track route to Bray.

'The average journey time into Connolly Station is two hours, 23 minutes. This is a challenge with the upgrade of the roads,' he cautioned, before pointing to a 9 per cent increase in train journeys made this year compared to the first ten months of last year.

A €5 each way promotion saw a 20 per cent increase in passengers availing of the train service to and from Dublin over the summer.

There are plans to introduce a fleet of extra intermediate rail cars, but a suggestion by Cllr Robbie Ireton for the train route - (one of the most scenic in Europe, he believes) - to be made into an Orient Express type experience was run aground by Mr Kenny.

The Irish Rail spokesperson had an eye on the clock and the coast as he was catching the last train back to Dublin. He expressed concern about the negative effects climate change is having on the Wexford and Wicklow coastlines, saying a medium to long term strategy is needed.

Mr Kenny confirmed that Irish Rail has no plans to close the Gorey to Rosslare line, saying, instead that the company is in expansion mode for the coming decade.

Mr Enright said a submission was made to Irish Rail in January of last year that the Rosslare service could be truncated at Bray at peak times when passengers when disembark for a Dart train.

Calling for a more frequent train service from Dublin to Wexford and Wexford to Dublin, he said an express service is needed to get commuters to meetings and appointments. 'The train could skip smaller stations so people could get on in the morning and be in Dublin in time for their meeting and get back in the evening.'

The fact that the rail line is unique in the country by virtue of the fact it is the only service where customers can't sit down and work on their computers.

Mr Enright called for the rail cars to be upgraded, saying: 'We were promised that this would happen by the previous CEO.'

He said coastal erosion is a particular concern for the council as it could lead to the closure of the rail line for a significant period of time.

'It could close and make it difficult to reopen it in a speedy manner.'

Cllr Malcolm Byrne said the same urban Irish Rail rolling stock has been in use, more or less, on the Rosslare Harbour to Dublin line for 20 years, apart from a brief hiatus in 2005 for a few years when luxurious trains were run on the tracks.

He disagreed with Mr Enright's plan to have passengers disembark the train at Bray, saying he doesn't believe this would speed up the journey.

Cllr Byrne said considering traffic in and around Dublin is now busier than at the peak of the boom in the mid-Noughties, there is an ideal opportunity for the train service to fill the gap in the market. 'This is an ideal opportunity to relieve a bit of the pressure on the N11. It also makes sense for environmental reasons but does Irish Rail have that innovative thinking?'

Cllr Larry O'Brien outlined how councillors received a commitment that the Rosslare to Waterford line would remain open, but it was closed a decade ago.

He said there have been subsequent issues involving the company, including the fact that foot passengers disembarking ferries had to wait hours for a train, as it pulled out from the station minutes before they arrived.

Cllr Oisin O'Connell said there is an opportunity to provide a freight train service for goods from Rosslare Europort across the country. 'Based on past experience the lack of joined up thinking regarding Rosslare Europort and the rail network has been somewhat underwhelming. It's symptomatic of a corporate culture that is willing to allow certain infrastructure to wither on the vine so the low lying fruit can be snatched up.'

Mr Kenny said the rail service is now connected with the ships arrival times.

Wexford People

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