Almost 34 years after the last scheduled passenger train operated between Limerick and Galway line, a special launch train carrying invited guests has once again traversed the tracks between the two cities to officially open the new Limerick – Galway service.
The €106.5 million new route has been officially launched by Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey TD following the completion of the renewal of the Ennis-Athenry line. Scheduled services commenced on 30th March.
Joining Minister Dempsey and CIÉ and Iarnród Éireann Chairman Dr John Lynch at the launch celebrations were the Mayors of the cities and counties along the route, elected representatives, community and business groups, members of the project team and other invited guests
CIÉ and Iarnród Éireann Chairman, Dr John Lynch, previewing the service, said “already it is clear there is tremendous public support for and interest in this new service. We have boosted capacities on trains throughout launch week such is the level of enquiries from people right along the route, and we are very confident that demand will easily outstrip the projections made for this service.”
Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey said: “This is a truly historic day for the West of Ireland because for the first time in over 30 years passenger trains will again run between Limerick and Galway. It is the longest section of track to be re-opened in the entire country and it is also the first Inter-City line to be re-opened”
West of Ireland rail services
The opening of the first phase of the Western Rail Corridor is the latest boost for West of Ireland rail services, which have seen significant development under Transport 21.
All Westport-Dublin, Galway-Dublin and Limerick-Dublin services are operated by the new fleet of Intercity railcars, offering high levels of quality and comfort. In addition, frequency has been improved, including new early morning services from Westport and Galway to Dublin.
Freight services have also been developed, with Ballina a key hub in Iarnród Éireann’s rail freight operations. This includes Ballina-Waterford container trains, Ballina-Waterford pulpwood business for Coillte, and a new service last year from Ballina to Dublin Port for containers. This latter service, operated with IWT, has been operating twice weekly up until now. From next month, this will expand to three full container trains weekly, and Iarnród Éireann will continue to seek to develop commercially viable freight business on our network.