NASRUG (Naas and Sallins Rail Users Group) is a commuter lobby group serving the users of Naas and Sallins railway station. A strong advocate of public transport, and a daily commuter to Dublin myself, I have been involved with the group since its inception.
We lobby on a number of matters but primarily on timetable changes, station facilities (parking, shelters, buildings), service levels (punctuality, reliability, announcements), ticketing and fare structures and longer term projects such as Transport 21 and route upgrades.
Looking back over the last few years I would say we have consistently punched above our weight and no less this week.
As in previous years, we received an advance copy of the timetable and whilst it was reasonable overall and included a few sweeteners (such as a later last train at 11pm which we’d always listed as a ‘nice-to-have’), there was one outstanding issue.
This was a gap in the evening service between 18.35 and 20.05 returning from Heuston to Sallins. For many people working a little later than the traditional 9-5 this posed significant problems in getting home. Allowing for the fact that Heuston itself is a bit away from most workplaces, many folk were stranded between these trains until the 20.05 and were stuck getting home at 9pm daily as a result.
Previous years negotiations had seen repeated improvements (we made a lot of breakthroughs in the 07 timetable including an improved evening service and a Sunday service) but this gap was the one remaining ‘black spot’ in the Sallins timetable.
Armed with a flood of protest from the online group I approached our contact in Irish Rail and made him fully aware of the difficulties posed. There were challenges around rolling stock and conflicts with mainline trains, but we kept on the pressure and IR kept with it, and I finally got the good news on Wednesday that we would indeed get an additional train.
From Monday, 10th December, the 18.50 service ex-Heuston will stop in Sallins. It will not be printed in official timetables, being an 11th hour concession, but it will operate.
Credit where credit’s due and Irish Rail took our points on board here. They showed flexibility and a willingness to meet us halfway and I am certainly appreciative.
NASRUG have always had a policy of positive engagement and whilst we can and do get tough when the occasion calls for it, equally we listen to the other side at all times and usually we meet in the middle.
Communications build trust, trust builds communications. It’s certainly worked out this time.