In a statement this week, Senator Lorraine Higgins has urged for swift action to be undertaken in alleviating the traffic congestion which has been caused by train delays at Athenry. She insists that “Irish Rail must adopt an imaginative solution to the persistent traffic chaos that ensues when trains are delayed at Athenry. Unless something is done immediately, the town will lose significant trade to neighbouring areas.” When trains on the Galway/Limerick and Dublin/Galway are delayed on the single track system, it has a significant knock-on effect, not just on arrival and departure times for passengers.”
Senator Higgins added that the “situation is compounded” in Athenry because traffic builds at the railway crossing when the Limerick train is parked waiting for the Dublin bound train to pass. Passengers transferring between trains is another contributing factor to the traffic delays. as it leaves “the town grinding to a halt during this time which can vary on a daily basis.”
The Senator also went on to report that on one occasion, the railway gates were closed for approximately 30 minutes which led to a complete standstill in traffic movement. Delays of this calibre are a frequent occurrence in Athenry and can take place up to seven times a day with trains going in and out of the Athenry station.
And it is not just motorists who are affected by the lengthy delays. “I’ve also had numerous representations from the business community concerning the serious disruption to trade at peak times as a result of this daily and completely unpredictable situation that has developed at Athenry railway station, ” said Senator Higgins.
The Senator concluded: “I have written to Irish Rail and asked them to desist from unnecessarily closing the gates for long periods of time while awaiting arrival of trains into the station and to explore or fully utilise a system of mechanical signalling or signalling passing places for bi-directional running. Ultimately, Irish Rail ought to look at buying land for a second line as the traffic clearly merits it which I have also suggested to them.”