The Phoenix Park tunnel works is a positive step but it is not a panacea. Whilst I will always welcome investment in the railway, the Phoenix Park tunnel is not the holy grail many hold it out to be. It does have the definite benefit of connecting the two major rail routes across the country for the first time in a hundred years. On the flip side it does little to get Kildare line commuters into the south part of the city where most of them want to go. Services using the park tunnel will terminate at Connolly and the journey time is not necessarily better than the current LUAS link option.
I 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.
I spoke recently at a Transport Policy Conference in Clane organised by Kildare North Fianna Fáil and chaired by Timmy Dooley TD. One of the key points I made was calling on the Government to restart capital funding for transport infrastructure projects. Commuters will have noticed that at train stations across Kildare North there are increased passenger volumes. For instance, Maynooth station was recently listed in the top 10 busiest stations in Ireland.
Investing in train line infrastructure and rolling stock is important now as the economy starts to recover and public transport needs to remain a viable choice for residents across Kildare North, so many of whom commute to Dublin for work and study. This is a policy area I’ve been vocal on for years. This Government, and future ones, must give a commitment to investing in transport infrastructure.
There is welcome news for commuters as Irish Rail have introduced bike lockers at Sallins & Naas train station. After requests I made last year, the busy commuter station was chosen by Irish Rail for the pilot scheme. The innovative yet simple scheme allows cyclists to cheaply secure their bicycles in lockers during the day. I’ve noted many complaints over the years of bike thefts at the station. This was had discouraged commuters from cycling to work before taking the train.
As 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: