Progress For North Kildare Train Services

Hazelhatch CanvassI recently met with Irish Rail to raise concerns regarding the rail services in North Kildare. In what was a positive meeting I discussed the main issues that commuters who use the train services daily, including myself, have found need improving. Irish Rail were receptive to these opinions and a number of improvements and reviews were agreed at the meeting.

  • A new timetable is due for publication in early 2016. This new timetable will address the evening gap in both Hazelhatch and Sallins train stations. A draft version of the timetable will be made available and commuters will have the opportunity to have their say.
  • Irish Rail agreed to review the 23.10 last train time.
  • The issue of lack of awareness of the shuttle bus from Celbridge to Hazelhatch station was brought up. Irish Rail made the point that the shuttle timetable is on their website and has been running this facility for a long time.

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Sallins & Naas Train Station Updates

James_Train_Station_v2-2As spokesperson for the Sallins & Naas train lobby group NASRUG, I meet regularly with Irish Rail to review performance of the commuter services and discuss any issues affecting the Kildare railway line. I most recently met with Irish rail on the Monday 1st December and discussed a range of issues as follows:

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Sallins Shelter Demanded as Rail Fares Hiked Again

We needed the ramps, but after spending all that money where are the rain shelters?

We needed the ramps, but after spending all that money where are the rain shelters?

Irish Rail have again announced they will be hiking their fares for 2014. This comes on top of the fortune they spent on a station “upgrade” in Sallins that has left the place almost worse than it was to start with.

This week we have another hike in fares from Irish rail and the National Transport Authority. Annual tickets will go up from the 1st November and all other fares increase on 1st December, just before any Christmas shopping. Hard pressed commuters are faced with the 4th consecutive year of fare increases.

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New Train Welcomed for Sallins & Naas Station

This week I had discussions with Irish Rail and they agreed with me that they would add an extra morning Dublin-bound service to serve Sallins & Naas train station. As a member of the NASRUG train lobby group, I meet regularly with Irish Rail on behalf of local Rail Commuters, and this was the latest item from their agenda.

There was a new timetable introduced late last year, which was fine in the main but it did open up a few gaps in the schedule. One issue was at morning time between 8am and 9am you had a big gap between trains. There was traditionally always a service in around 8.30am which was perfect for those doing crèche runs etc to still catch a train to make Dublin before 9am.

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Pricing, planning and other railway problem children

In the wake of the emergency subvention of €36 million announced for CIE, Fianna Fáil’s local area representative for Naas, James Lawless, has criticised Irish Rail management and said they need to innovate to succeed in today’s climate.

Ireland's Railways need strategic thinking fast

“I’ve always been a fan of public transport” explained James, who is also a spokesperson for the Naas and Sallins Rail User Group. “I use the train to Dublin almost every working day and when it’s done right there is no better way to travel” according to James.

“But you sometimes wonder what commercial acumen, if any, do Irish Rail apply to their operation or whether they employ any strategic considerations. We’ve been told their revenue is under pressure because the numbers are dropping and that rings true. But they must realise the prices they are charging are causing that drop-off as well. It’s not so bad on a commuter ticket but they are simply not competitive for day trippers or casual users. Compared with the bus or even taking the car, their fares are far steeper” claimed James.

“Their pricing structures are still rooted on the old tram lines from the beginning of the last century” explained James. “That’s apparently why it costs a couple of euro to travel from Hazelhatch or Maynooth but an extra tenner to travel one stop further onto Sallins. It’s not justifiable today. Also most businesses including hotels and airlines discount seats approaching departure as better a full house on half fare than an empty one at the same cost. The train is going anyway, surely half a loaf would be better than no bread” claimed James.

“Another example is the service quality on certain routes. The Wexford ‘commuter’ line takes two hours by train on a distance no longer than Portlaoise or Drogheda which take an hour. This is on a now primary commuter corridor and also what is a popular Summer base from which so many travel to the capital daily”.

“The ongoing fiasco regarding shelters at Sallins station also makes you wonder. It’s literally hard to see where the shelters will actually fit when they are hopefully installed. They will have to dismantle newly erected structures to make room. It beggars belief that they could spend all that money and end up with almost a worse station than they started with” concluded James.