There is much concern locally that the current Sligo - Dublin train services stopping in Carrick-on-Shannon and Dromod could see cuts next year if demand is deemed too low.
Fianna Fáil Senator Marc MacSharry is one of many who has called on the Government to clarify the situation and intervene amid fears that the frequency of the Dublin Sligo trains could be cut.
Speaking to the Leitrim Observer about the concerns, a spokesperson for Irish Rail said “No decision has been made to change the Sligo timetable at this time. However, in view of the impact of the ongoing economic recession on our business, we have to examine the level of demand for our train services on all routes at all different times of the day and week. Where there are trains that are greatly under-utilised, it may be necessary for us to amend the schedules accordingly.”
Irish Rail said the Sligo-Dublin train schedule will not be altered for the remainder of this year. Irish Rail are required to obtain the approval of the National Transport Authority (NTA).
They also intend to publish any draft schedules on the Irish Rail website, and invite customers to give feedback as part of a public consultation on the proposed schedules. “Where timetable changes are authorised by the NTA, we would then give advance notice to the public before implementing any changes to the timetable,” the spokesperson stated.
Senator Marc Mac Sharry said, “I find it deeply worrying that there seems to be plans to cut the rail service link between Sligo and Dublin. This is a critical part of the access infrastructure of the entire region. For many people the rail link is the only viable way to commute to work on a daily basis. The massive price of petrol is precluding many people from driving and the possibility of the train service being cut will deeply distress a lot of families.
“I find it perplexing that Irish Rail was given a €36 million cash injection in July to stave off the threat of cuts to services yet here we are in August with the same threat hanging over our heads. I am calling on the Minister for Transport to clarify where the €36 million investment went and what areas of Irish Rail received the cash injection.
“The north west access is critical for tourism and business, both indigenous and through foreign direct investment, and to set about further dismantling our access medians will undermine our marketability as a location for business. The people had to fight to save this line before and will again to ensure that the Government does not target our region unfairly,” concluded Mac Sharry.
• The 07:00hrs Sligo Connolly Service was delayed by 45mins due to a signal fault at Carrick-on-Shannon last Friday, September 7. Irish Rail told the Leitrim Observer the “fault has since been rectified.” They apologised for any inconvenience caused. Also on Monday, September 10 the 07:00hrs Sligo Connolly Service was delayed by 50 minutes after the train hit sheep on the line.