A bitesize look at what was discussed at the October meeting of Mayo County Council.
Council budget meeting scheduled for November 25
Mayo County Council's annual budget meeting will convene on Monday, November 25 at 10am following a workshop for councillors in preparation for the budget on Tuesday, November 19.
Fianna Fáil whip, Cllr Damien Ryan, proposed the date of the budget, which was seconded by Fine Gael Cllr Peter Flynn - the Fine Gael councillor said that he hoped the councillors could work together to find a way to meet any potential budget shortfall, but an increase in the rates on local businesses would not be acceptable to anyone. Cathaoirleach of the council, Cllr Brendan Mulroy, said he agreed that everyone needed to work together and it had to be a budget by the entire council, not by one side and he hoped he didn't see three or four different ideas coming at the same time and nobody knowing what they were voting for.
Councillors approve raising €6.05 million loan for lighting project
The elected members of Mayo County Council have approved the raising of a €6.05 million loan in respect of a Public Lighting Energy Efficiency Project. Head of roads for Mayo County Council, Paul Dolan, told the members at their October meeting that currently there are 16,500 public lights in the county and the council has already retro-fitted about 25 per cent of those over the last five to six years - leaving 12,800 to be completed.
He also told members that the council had energy efficiency targets to hit and with the council no longer being a sanitary authority, public lighting was now the vast bulk of the council's energy usage at around 65 per cent. The timeline for the project - which will see Mayo become the lead authority for one of three regions in the country to undertake this project - will see a consultant appointed in quarter one next year and a contractor on site hopefully by mid 2020.
Dolan also said that the energy-saving from going to LED lights is in the region of 60 per cent on current costs and the savings should pay for the loan being taken out by the council to cover costs of the project.
Increase of 45,000 rail users on Mayo-to-Dublin lines in two years
Passenger numbers using train services to Mayo have increased by 45,000 in the two years between 2016 and 2018 - the elected members of Mayo County Council were told this week. During a presentation by Irish Rail at the council's monthly meeting it was also revealed that in 2016, 535,000 passengers used the services between the county and Dublin and in 2018 that number had increased to 580,000.
Longer trains coming but will be two years away
Longer trains with more capacity between Mayo and Dublin are on the way but it will be two years before they arrive - the elected members of Mayo County Council were told this week by Irish Rail during a presentation to the council's October meeting. However it will be 2020 at the earliest before they come on stream - the longer trains will see the 7.15am service from Westport go from a five-piece to a six-piece train and the 18.15 service in both directions go from a four to a six-piece train.
Staffing numbers in Castlebar train station could drop to two
The current three-member staff at Castlebar Train Station could be reduced to two - the elected members of Mayo County Council were told this week by Irish Rail. At the moment the station is manned from 6.30am to 10.30pm Monday to Saturday and from 7am to 10pm on Sundays - but at times, due to illness, training or annual leave, their might not be a member of staff at the station, Irish Rail said, adding that there is a possibility staffing numbers may be reduced from three to two and the hours of staffing at the station would reduce accordingly. It was also revealed Irish Rail is in the process of introducing customer service agents who will be on the trains - rather than in the station - and that recent figures have shown that 87 per cent of all tickets bought for trains nationally are purchased online and that people with free travel passes can book seats either online or by calling their customer service number for €5.
Lobbying required to secure early bird service for Ballina
In response to a query to Irish Rail from Independent Cllr Mark Duffy at this month's Mayo County Council meeting as to whether an early bird service for Ballina could be introduced to connect with the Westport 5.20am train, an Irish Rail representative replied: "Figures for the early bird usage show that on an average day out of Castlebar there are 25 people on it, when it gets to Roscommon there are 51 on board; when you are looking at the Ballina corridor, which would be less populated, the majority of people who travel on that service are east of Athlone, with people who are communting from there to Dublin. We will have a national timetable review in 2020 and there will be a public consultation at that time. I would advise you to get as many as your constituents to say there is a public demand there because we would first have to assess the demand to see would it be possible to extend it."
Irish Rail to look at late platform announcements for Dublin trains to Mayo
A number of Mayo County Councillors have asked Irish Rail to explain why the trains to Mayo out of Dublin always seem to be at the furthest platform away in Heuston Station. At this month's council meeting they also asked Irish Rail why the announcement of the platform number is only made about ten minutes before the train is due to depart. Cllr Mark Duffy said that it was an old joke now that you are half way home before you get on the train in Dublin while Cllr Michael Kilcoyne added that it wasn't good enough for elderly people and people coming from hospital appointments to have to wait that long to find out what platform to go to and then make the long trek down to it. Irish Rail said they would look into the matter with their district manager in Heuston station.
Trains are allowed to carry people standing
A representative of Irish Rail stated at the October meeting of Mayo County Council that Irish Rail is allowed to carry people standing and that their licence allows them to carry four people per meter squared. The information was supplied in response to a query by Independent Cllr Michael Kilcoyne as to whether Irish Rail is insured to carry people standing up on their trains - in light of the fact that people can be left standing the whole journey on them from Mayo. The representative added that Irish Rail want to see people travel in comfort and they have been lobbying the government to release funding so they can purchase extra carriages to help alleviate the issue.