Castlebar Train Station celebrated 150 years in business on Sunday last, December 16, with a day of fun and nostalgia, from music to vintage cars. The Castlebar Town Band played and John O’Mahony TD unveiled a specially commissioned bronze artwork of a steam locomotive.
Master of ceremonies for the day was Noel Hoban. A cheese and wine reception was held at Tolster’s on Spencer Street, where a video of the signal cabin was shown on the big screen and music was provided by Mick Mulhearne and Co.
A collection of photographs dating from the 1800s were displayed at the station, including images of staff of Castlebar Station through the decades. The photo display charted the history of the station, with trains that once served the line and customers leaving Castlebar for various reasons, from emigration to honeymoons. The display will remain in place for customers to view as they visit the station in the coming months.
Speaking at the event Anne Elliott, Station Manager, Westport and Castlebar Station, said: “As custodian of the railway, Iarnród Éireann is very proud of its heritage and is delighted to mark 150 years of the railway to Castlebar today. Castlebar Station’s role is expanding, with an increase in service frequency from next year, and I am certain that it will continue to prosper and serve the community over the next 150 years.
Castlebar Train Station was built partially because of the influence of Lord Lucan (George Bingham), who put pressure on the Great Southern and Midlands Railway to open the station in 1862. Lord Lucan owned 60,000 acres of land, and he required rail to transport his cattle to England.
The price of a return train from Westport to Dublin in the day was 27 shillings – a princely sum considering the average wage at the time was 10 shillings a week.
Today the Westport-Castlebar-Dublin service is a growing part of Iarnród Éireann’s network, with a new fleet of trains operating all services, and renewed infrastructure, from track to signaling. Free WiFi is now available on all services. Punctuality is at over 97 per cent at present, and journey times are also set to improve from January, by up to 20 minutes in some instances, according to Iarnród Éireann.
A new daily service leaving Westport at 9.45am is also to begin from January 2013.
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