Nenagh group rails at lack of commuter service

A NORTH Tipperary lobby group yesterday took their campaign for a new commuter service between Nenagh and Limerick ‘on line’.

More than 100 supporters packed two carriages on the 11am service from Nenagh to Limerick’s Colbert Station.

The train usually has one passenger carriage, but Irish Rail added a second to accommodate the group, whose members each paid the e6.50 return fare.

Irish Rail operates two Nenagh/Limerick trains - one at 11am and the other at 7.50pm.

The Nenagh Rail Partnership group wants Irish Rail to begin a 7.30am commuter service to Limerick to facilitate workers who mostly travel by car.

A recent survey carried out for the group by University of Limerick lecturer Sean Reidy revealed that 360 people commute each day from Nenagh to Limerick and most would avail of a morning commuter train service if it was available.

Over 90% said they travel alone by car each day to work in Limerick.

Nenagh Town Councillor Virginia O’Dowd, who led the protest, said an extended schedule between Limerick and destinations such as Nenagh and Ballybrophy would benefit Irish Rail, commuters and tourism interests.

Ms O’Dowd said: “My husband has been travelling to work each day for the past 15 years by car on his own. He is one of hundreds who would jump at the chance of availing of a morning rail service.”

She said they had received a positive response from Irish Rail management, but the issue came down to funding.

“We have a commitment that they will look at a commuter service between Nenagh and Limerick in 2007. The line needs some upgrading as there are speed restrictions on parts of it. The carriages are very good and our survey has quantified a significant demand,” she said.

The Nenagh group said they want to develop the concept of a Lough Derg line and market it as a tourism asset as well as a commuter facility.

Ms O’Dowd said the Lough Derg line could link with Castleconnell, which has a station on the Nenagh/Limerick line and is famous for its fishing.

Ms O’Dowd said: “We could work with Irish Rail to improve the railway station at Nenagh on the lines of a Tidy Towns committee by placing shrubs and flower beds there. We would also like to see Tipperary North Riding Council appoint a railway officer to help develop business on the Lough Derg line.”

Irish Rail mid-west business development manager Jim Galvin said they do not have carriage capacity to expand the Nenagh service.

He said: “New inter-city carriages are due to be brought into service later this year and this will give us more flexibility regarding the carriages we currently use on commuter services such as the Limerick to Limerick Junction service.

“Our chief executive, Dick Fearn, met the Nenagh group last September and assured them we will reassess the situation at the end of this year.”

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