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The number of passengers using the Limerick to Galway rail service has increased by 14% since 2019.

Passenger increase helps makes case for Crusheen station reopening

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A MAJOR increase in the number of people using the Western Rail Corridor from Limerick to Galway has proven the case for the re-opening of the train stop at Crusheen, according to a local councillor. 

Figures just released show an increase of just over 14% in the numbers using the service in 2022 when compared to 2019, the last full year of figures. “This means that more than 600,000 passengers used the line last year, up from 531,000 in 2019,” Councillor Alan O’Callaghan, Cathaoirleach of the Killaloe Municipal District said. “The Western Rail Corridor remains the fastest-growing rail link in the country.”

The figures were also welcomed by Councillor Pat Hayes who called at the November meeting of the Killaloe district for a business case to be made for the re-opening of the rail stop at Crusheen. “To be honest, the members of the travelling public using the Limerick to Galway rail line have made that case themselves,” he said.

“We are continuing to work to make the case because the Crusheen stop is an opportunity for a quick win for everyone, if they just copped on.”

The Caher man paid tribute to community members working hard to keep the re-opening of the stop at Crusheen on the agenda, as well as to the late Fr Micheál Mac Gréil. “Fr Mac Gréil was a tireless campaigner for the Western Rail Corridor,” he said.

“I extend my sympathies to his family and community. He was a man of the people and attended every meeting to advance this issue. Locally, Michael Doherty and Seán Keehan have done tremendous work to champion their area and what the rail stop could do for a very wide hinterland around Crusheen.”

Councillor Hayes acknowledged plans for a county-wide transport plan, but said there was no time to waste in pressing the case for Crusheen.

“Now is the opportune time to re-open the Crusheen stop,” he said. “Lots of work has gone into gathering public views in the area and having a rail stop is a no-brainer. The new figures underline the case for this service. There’s a huge opportunity here from people around East Clare to use the rail service, if they could just access it at Crusheen.

Councillor O’Callaghan, meanwhile, highlighted the importance of keeping the rail link open at Ballycar where flooding has occasionally forced Iarnród Éireann to provide bus transport. “Thank God, we haven’t had a closure there in recent years, but it’s always a fear,” he said. “Once there’s flooding, it takes a long time for the water level to fall so there’s a need for consistent vigilance on that and our area engineer has undertaken to take action.”

The Kilmurry man noted the large numbers of college students using the Limerick to Galway line in recent years.

“The accommodation situation means more students than ever need to commute,” he said. “It’s great to see that the train service is there for them. All in all, passenger numbers have trebled in just over a decade and that shows how critically important this piece of infrastructure is.

“The cost of rail infrastructure is significant, as we can see from the details of the Limerick to Foynes line, but in the case of the Western Rail Corridor, the line is there and it does need to be re-opened all the way to Sligo. Once upon a time, Guinness used to come from St James’s Gate in Dublin to Ennis and Limerick and there are all kinds of opportunities that could be developed if we could get action on the remaining sections of the Western Rail Corridor.”

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