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’Bridge station at standstill due to lack of ancillary facilities

WHILE it’s full steam ahead with Iarnród Éireann as regards their end of the bargain, it appears Clare County Council is lagging behind in installing ancillary services that will facilitate the reopening of Sixmilebridge Railway Station.
The council has earmarked €600,000 for the works and that finance is still available but an application for ERDF funding was unsuccessful.
“The money the council committed is still there for Sixmilebridge. The money is there, it’s just that the works will start later than advertised,” a council official confirmed.
Clare County Council admitted this week that while financial resources have been ring-fenced for the project, a delay in developing the car park makes it “unlikely” that parking facilities will be in place by the end of December.
However, this setback has been tempered by confirmation from Iarnród Éireann manager for the west, Jim Meade that when the Sixmilebidge station is running, it will be synchronised with a bus service connecting to Shannon Airport and that an expanded service is planned for the Ennis to Limerick commuter service.
Local councillor PJ Ryan told The Clare Champion that there had been a lot of concern locally because of council inactivity at the site and it was regrettable that the station wasn’t on track to be opened for the pre-Christmas shopping traffic.
“Ideally, it would have been great to have the station open for the period in the run-up to Christmas, as there would be a novelty factor for commuters travelling to Limerick and Ennis for shopping. This is a missed opportunity for both Iarnród Éireann and Clare County Council to bring in revenue.
“Originally, it was promised that the station would be open in September and that it doesn’t appear likely that it will be operation by the end of the year,” he said.
Councillor Ryan explained that Iarnród Éireann has completed their work on the refurbishment of the station and the installation of the new platform. All lighting was installed, as were the necessary shelters and CCTV cameras. His information was that personnel were in training to operate the facility.
Meanwhile, a council spokesperson pointed out that a Part V111 planning process was completed earlier this year for the development of a car park to facilitate the reopening of the train station in Sixmilebridge. A number of conditions attached to this permission which required agreement with the planning authority and a submission was recently filed with the planning section.
While the council approved  bylaws for the operation of the car park at their September meeting, tenders had since been sought for the supply, management and maintenance of parking machines.
The spokesperson added that these tenders, due back this week, will be examined immediately and a contract awarded to the most suitable tender.
“In relation to the funding of the works, an allocation of €600,000 was allocated by the council to carry out the works. Some time later, the council made an application for funding to the Gateway Fund (ERDF), given the strategic location of Sixmilebridge in the Limerick – Shannon gateway corridor.
“However, the council was notified recently that this application was unsuccessful,” the spokesperson disclosed.
“On the works programme, some preparatory works have commenced on site. The final steps required to commence the development include the appointment of a health and safety co-ordinator and the finalisation of a small sliver of land, both of which are expected to be completed shortly.
“Finally, I wish to confirm that financial resources are ringfenced for this development and pending the finalisation of the outstanding issues, work will commence on site. At this stage, it is unlikely that the car park will be constructed before Christmas but I assure you that every effort will be made to expedite the work,” the official added.

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