Thousands of people turned out for the reopening of passenger services on the rail line between Limerick and Galway today.
At each of the eight stations along the 60 kilometre route – which last carried fare-paying passengers in April 1976 – locals waved flags and cheered in scenes of driving rain as the train bearing Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey and his retinue travelled along the route.
Iarnród Éireann is reopening the line, which was built in 1869, at a cost of €106 million. It will run five services a day in each direction Monday to Saturday and four on Sundays.Marquees were set up at a number of stations to house the crowds and plaques commemorating the occasion were unveiled at each stop with Mr Dempsey pointing out the route was the State’s longest section of new track and “the first of the State’s inter-city lines to be reopened.”
Mr Dempsey promised his “absolute commitment” to the reopening of phases two, three and four of the Western Rail Corridor, which are from Athenry to Tuam Co Galway, to Claremorris Co Mayo, and to Collooney Co Sligo
The commitment was, he said, dependent on getting the money at Cabinet and he said the best way supporters of the reopening of the rail corridor could help, was to show their support the new service between Limerick and Galway.
At about two hours duration the journey time from Limerick to Galway is longer than the 1 hour 30 minutes for road journeys between the two cities, and likely to be considerably longer when a motorway is completed between Galway and Ennis.
In addition to existing stations at Limerick, Ennis, Athenry and Galway, new stations have been built at Sixmilebridge Co Clare, and Gort, Ardrahan, and Craughwell in Co Galway.
Source: Irish Times