MORE CARRAIGES ON THE WAY Barry Kenny, Irish Rail.
IT is good news from Irish Rail for a change, as Cllr Brendan Mulroy confirms that the State sponsored public transport body will send two representatives to the West Mayo Municipal District meeting in September.
Speaking to The Mayo News yesterday (Monday), Cllr Mulroy (FF) said: “I was contacted by Irish Rail on Friday, and they will have two representatives at our September meeting, which I very much welcome.”
The Westport councillor led a national debate when he took to the airwaves and various media outlets to highlight the chaos on the Westport train on Sunday, August 18, when many people travelled to the All-Ireland Hurling Final.
One harrowing story told by Mulroy highlighted the distress that such overcrowding can cause: “I met one elderly man with IBS. He was distraught because he couldn’t get near a toilet and was afraid of what might happen.”
But all the media attention is now paying some dividends.
“I also received an email [last Friday] confirming that Irish Rail had plans to lay on an extra four carriages from Athlone – along with the five scheduled ones from Westport – for the 7.50am train on Sunday [when Mayo was playing in the Ladies’ Senior Football Championship semi-final in Croke Park],” Cllr Mulroy said.
He added that Irish Rail acknowledged that it has the figures from online bookings to assess the level of demand, and he stressed that the forward thinking that was deployed on Sunday last ‘needed to continue’ for the western service.
“The busyness of this line displayed through the overcrowding confirms how viable and profitable the line to Westport is,” he added.
APOLOGISING for last Thursday’s overcrowding, Irish Rail confirmed last week that customers would have to wait for another two years for overcrowding issues on certain services to be totally resolved.
Irish Rail spokesperson Barry Kenny said the State-owned company was ‘urgently’ seeking to order new trains, noting that the company had been under-funded since the recession.
“We’re urgently looking to place an order for new trains. We’ve seen huge growth, which is obviously very welcome, but since before the economic crisis we haven’t been funded for new trains.”
Mr Kenny said that the funding was coming on-stream, but that lead-in times meant it would be 2021 at the earliest before any new trains entered service.
He explained: “We’re funded under the National Development Plan. There’s an additional 41 carriages initially that we are looking to acquire. That’s going through the National Transport Authority and governmental approval process.
“We hope to confirm that in the coming weeks. But if the order is confirmed next month, the earliest they will enter service is the end of 2021,” he added.