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Pre-Christmas cheer for rail users

FEARS of reduced frequencies on the Ennis-Limerick commuter rail link are without foundation, according to Clare Fine TD Pat Breen, who has been assured by the western regional manager for the railway network.
“Instead of cutbacks, increased services are on the way and long-awaited rail connections are coming down the line by the end of the year,” said Deputy Breen, delivering some pre-Christmas good tidings for a re-opened western rail corridor and return of the Sixmilebridge station.
Deputy Breen had followed up on concerns voiced at a meeting of the Mid-West Regional Authority about reports that the Ennis to Limerick commuter service was to be reduced. He received prompt reassurances from the Iarnród Éireann manager for the west region, Jim Meade.
“The opposite is the case and I have been assured in writing that in fact Iarnród Éireann intend to expand the weekday service,” Deputy Breen reported.
“In addition to improvements in the service, an additional service to Ennis that will leave Houston Station, Dublin at 6 o’clock in the evening is being added, which will provide a later than ever connection from the capital to Ennis.”
The wait of 33 years for the re-opening of the Ennis to Athenry rail link is almost over and is set to be running from next month. Scheduled to re-open in 2008, Deputy Breen added, “I am now told that a series of checks are being carried out and the hope is that the restored connection to Athenry will be operational from mid-December. Once it is up and running, Iarnród Éireann intends to operate five services each way on the line.”
Final touches are also awaited for the reopening of the Sixmilebridge railway stop, which is to be synchronised with a bus service connecting to Shannon Airport. “That will open up access to the airport for Galway passengers as well as adding to public transport services in the hugely expanding segment of the Limerick-Shannon gateway,” Deputy Breen pointed out.
The rail stop at Sixmilebridge is “almost ready for passenger services” he said. “Issues regarding car parking and access to the platform have to be ironed out and my understanding is that Clare County Council is currently working to resolve these issues.”
With the major improvements in rail connections and airport access on the way, Deputy Breen is calling on Tourism Minister Martin Cullen to make extra funding available for regional marketing in the department’s 2010 budget, which is now being put before the Minister for Finance for his overall Budget.

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