Shorter journey times needed to keep Galway rail on track

Infrastructural improvements and shorter journey times for the Galway to Dublin line are just some of the recommendations of a report presented yesterday to the Rail Vision 2030 seminar, with indications that further consideration could also be given to an Athenry to Tuam rail line.

The AECOM/Goodbody Strategic Rail Investments Needs Review, is a major report on the future strategy for the national rail network, has called for improvements in speeds and capacity on Intercity lines to be prioritised and warns that without it passenger numbers will not recover before 2015.

Some of the recommendations include: Investment in tracks is needed to give journey time improvements of up to 30 minutes on key Intercity routes, including Dublin to Galway, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, and Waterford - it is hoped this will result in journey times of one hour and 45 minutes on the Dublin to Galway line; an increase in the service frequency of selected routes, with additional capacity through double-tracking the line from Portarlington to Athlone; longer-term electrification of key routes including Dublin-Cork and Dublin-Galway, enabling Galway and Cork to Dublin Airport rail services via Dublin city and DART Underground; a number of potential new regional rail lines were evaluated, with only Athenry to Tuam currently envisaged as a candidate for further consideration; and the restructuring and simplication of Intercity fare structures.

Regarding the Dublin to Galway route the report found that only one in five passengers use the service to commute to work and it cannot compete with road infrastructure. However it states that “although overall patronage on the Galway services is relatively low, the demand on services between Dublin and Athlone/Ballinasloe is quite strong”, and that the Galway corridor continues to perform a “very strong inter-city function”.

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