Denis Naughten TD has told Transport Minister Eamon Ryan that the current rail service from Athlone and Ballinasloe into Galway City is “more akin to an Indian rail service than an Irish one” due to overcrowding.
Deputy Naughten said that the recent expansion of rail services announced by Irish Rail ‘completely ignored’ the Galway to Athlone rail line, despite Galway city being choked with traffic.
Speaking in the Dáil, the Independent TD said the announcement by Irish Rail was ‘even more bizarre’ considering the Government allocated €3 million to provide a passing loop at Oranmore railway station 18 months ago.
He went on to say that in the first major rail carriage investment under the Minister’s tenure, Galway city has been ignored.
Denis Naughten pointed out that Galway and the West of Ireland had to “get their fair share of the new rail carriages and if the morning and evening services between Athlone and Galway were improved these carriages could then be used during the day to enhance commuter services into Galway City from Athenry.”
Minister Ryan said he agreed with Deputy Naughten that Galway, as well as Cork and Waterford, Limerick, receive investment so that they have centres of scale that can be counterweights to the greater Dublin area.
He said that there is also potential for further improvements to be made around Céannt Station and for double tracking and improving the overall level of service, particularly from the likes of Athenry or Athlone into Galway, so that people can commute by rail rather than by car, which he said is the “curse of Galway’s transport system at the present time.”