A TOTAL of one million journeys were recorded on the Dublin to Limerick railway line last year, the highest recorded on the route so far.
The figures represent a 10.4 per cent increase on 2017.
The Limerick to Galway route saw a more modest increase at 2.8 per cent, with 138,000 journeys in 2017, compared with 134,000 in 2017.
According to Iarnrod Éireann, increased road congestion due to the M7 roadworks, economic improvements, greater numbers of people in employment, and increased tourist numbers visiting the Shannon region have all contributed to the major increase in passenger numbers.
“The Limerick Galway line has also benefited from hugely discounted fares for students travelling between the two cities.”
When asked if the slow rate of growth on the Limerick to Galway line was related to frequent flooding at Ballycar, Newmarket on Fergus, an Iarnrod Éireann spokesperson told the Limerick Post: “We were closed for approximately two months (late January to late March) early in 2018, so undoubtedly this suppressed growth.”
The spokesperson revealed that Iarnrod Éireann has appointed engineering consultants RPS “to develop a feasible engineering solution to the flooding issue at Ballycar.”
“The consultants have been given a more wide-ranging and a broader remit to include consideration of the downstream impacts and also to develop measures to mitigate against any potential impacts in the Shannon Area of any proposed solution.
“RPS are to finalise their new report and present proposals to Iarnród Éireann in the spring of 2019. From this report, the most appropriate technically feasible option to address the Ballycar flooding issue will be considered by the bodies,” the spokesperson concluded.
Work has also commenced at Limerick Junction to provide an additional platform, which Iarnrod Éireann says “will significantly improve journey times for Cork/Kerry and Limerick customers and provide for greater operational flexibility”.
The works at Limerick Junction are set to be completed this year.
Iarnród Éireann chief executive Jim Meade commented: “Recording the highest ever passenger journeys is a high point for us as an organisation, but more importantly it gives us the chance to thank all of our customers, who have voted with their feet in choosing to travel with us.”
by Kathy Masterson