Campaigning on Transport

  • Long standing commuter campaigner
  • Fought for years for Sallins bypass and M7 upgrade
  • M4 noise reduction and Maynooth exit needed next
  • Secured LEAP card fares / zone for Sallins station & Kilcock
  • Lobbied for Sallins/Hazelhatch trains to use Phoenix Park tunnel
  • Now enables direct travel from Kildare line into city centre
  • Fought for retention of “Nightrider” late night bus services
  • Raising issues on 120, 115 and 126 buses regularly
  • Dealing with “Go-Ahead” on bus changeovers
  • Made improvements to 139 orbital bus service
  • Seeking better connections on bus and train services
  • Bus Connects must service all communities (e.g. Captains Hill)
  • Long term believe Dublin needs a “circle line” railway connector
  • Park & Ride expansion urgently needed in Sallins & Maynooth
  • Second bridge needed for Celbridge
  • Electrification of rail lines to Sallins and Kilcock

Accessibility at last for Sallins station

Good news at last for disability access at Sallins train station as accessibility works have finally started this week.

The works have been sought for some considerable time, practically since the station re-opened a decade or so ago and whilst newer stations such as Adamstown got accessibility access from the off, we had to wait for the upgrade works to commence and there were a number of false dawns along the way.

Still better late than never and it’s great to now see the construction phase begin, the machinery is finally on site and the project is commencing. The accessibility access issue has been the most pressing item in terms of station works for some time. It will be a huge relief primarily for disabled passengers of course and am sure it will also be welcomed by anyone who has ever had to push a buggy or cart a load of shopping over the existing stairway.

The works will not put in an elevator as I understand it but rather a set of footbridges and ramps. This is probably not ideal as an elevator would be more convenient but this seems to be the model Irish Rail are going with now as it is lower mainteance and less vandalism prone given lesser complexity and fewer moving parts.

I do think longer term the station has a lot of development potential – there are a fine set of buildings there and there is a lot more that could be done in terms of facilities including an enhanced ticket office, waiting area and even a little café in the future. But we’ll certainly welcome the accessibilityworks for now as a basic requirement of the station’s users and an essential first priority for any station upgrades.

Sallins Train Timetable

I recently made a submission to Irish Rail (IR) on the new timetable, on behalf of NASRUG and as part of a process of ongoing consultation with IR. The hope is this may be considered as part of the next issued timetable, which is due out in December, but an outside chance of coming onstream earlier due to the new line capacity offered by the Kildare Route Project.

My key timetable points below:

Naas & Sallins Rail Users Group – NASRUG

Timetable Feedback 2010.

Submitted: James Lawless
(Contact 086 834 8869, james@jameslawless.ie)

Morning ex Sallins

Problem: Too large a gap between 8.15 and 8.59
Solution: Restore 8.15 to 8.25 or add new train 8.30?

Evening ex Heuston

Problem: Gap between 18.50, 20.10, 21.10
Solution: Reschedule as 19.30, 20.22, 21.10?

Connecting Trains

Problem: Commuters charged extra for making connections e.g. via Newbridge
Solution: Allow season ticket holders this flexibility.

Capacity

Problem: Some trains now running as three carriages
Solution: Allow extra carriages on busier trains (e.g. 7.45 ex Sallins)

Sundays & Bank Holidays

Problem: No evening Sunday service home (last train departs 6.15pm)
Solution: Schedule later Sunday evening service, e.g. 7.30pm or 8pm

Problem: No bank holiday service at all
Solution: Run Sunday or other reduced service level on bank holidays.

(Later Sunday service especially important during championship summers!)

Public Transport Ard Fheis Motion

My proposing speech on public transport motion:

That this Ard-Fheis commits to the comprehensive provision of public transport, both rural and urban, as an efficient environmental alternative to private transport, and further calls on the Government to increase the level of public transport service provision so that it becomes the obvious first choice for commuters and passengers. (Sallins Cumann, Kildare North) Related Motion: (Wexford CDC)

Opening

Minister, Teachta Daila, Senators, A delgaidi, etc etc,

It is a great honour to address this Ard Fheis. It gives me great pleasure to propose this motion on behalf of Sallins cumann, Kildare North and as a Wexford man living in Kildare to note that a similar motion was submitted by Wexford CDC. I shall endeavour to represent both in my address.

Intro

Baroness Margaret Thatcher once said “Anyone who is still using public transport by the age of 30 is a failure”

Delegates as an Irishman, a Republican and a Fianna Fáil activist it gives me great pleasure to disagree most vehemently with Thatcher on yet another issue…

I propose tonight that public transport in Ireland should be elevated to a position of service excellence which renders it the automatic first choice for commuters and passengers.

I believe public transport to be the most effective, environmentally friendly way to serve cities with large distributed populations such as Dublin and surrounds.

Furthermore I believe effective public transport an essential component of community infrastructure in rural and outlying areas weaving the social fabric of human interaction and preventing social exclusion for old and young alike.

Transport at national level must serve the needs of the nation, facilitating commerce, tourism and leisure journeys and providing an integrated network of joined up journeys across our land.

Delegates this government has seen unprecedented levels of investment in transport infrastructure.

Transport 21 sees €31BN Euro committed to a comprehensive level of transport provision and infrastructure building across the land. Along with this unprecedented level of investment I believe we must also strive to excel in service delivery, ensuring that passenger expectations are not only met but exceeded to the point where public transport becomes the obvious first choice.

Commuter

At commuter level we have seen unprecedented economic growth drive the population of the Greater Dublin area to record levels. The rail network has been overhauled and re-developed to meet these demands. Stretches of previously moss-covered tracks have reopened and formerly rural stations car parks are now full to capacity catering for the thousands of citizens daily commuting to work in the capital city.

The huge popularity of these services is a welcome development but forms a challenge for existing infrastructures and we must strive to ensure service provision of the highest standard.

Park and Ride facilities are required at all commuter stations and I am happy to report significant progress within my own constituency with Naas and Sallins due to open, Hazel hatch and Leixlip parking facilities opening ahead of schedule.

In addition to park and ride facilities the feeder bus service should be enhanced and expanded.

National

At national level the existing rail network continues to improve. Hourly services from Dublin – Cork with spanking new rail cars form the flagship of the new fleet.

The massive engineering projects of T21 hold great promise for future connectivity and a fully integrated transport network. The Interconnecter in particular is a vital piece of transport infrastructure which will serve as hub enabling both commuter and national journeys navigate the centre of Dublin from Southern and Western onto Rosslare and Northern lines

I call upon the Minister to ensure every priority is given to this valuable project and that it delivered with full alacrity…

Spencer Dock – first new station in over a century – benefiting Maynooth Line

It is essential contention can be avoided between national and commuter services to avoid bottlenecks, a development which is already underway in my own constituency of Kildare North, where progress on the Kildare Route project to four track the line along the commuter corridor is well underway.

I would call upon the Minister to examine similar initiatives on other routes particularly on the Wicklow/Gorey/Arklow commuter services where contention with the DART network currently poses challenges for timetabling and journey times.

In the context of social capital and connecting communities it is highly desirable to enable efficient, smooth and pleasant journeys along regional routes. The Celtic Tiger has brought a merciful end to forced emigration but economic mobility still sees many people living far from home and away from extended family. Fianna Fáil has always embraced family values emphasising the role of both immediate and extended family and comfortable, efficient service options for regional and national journeys will help bridge geographic gaps arsing from economic mobility.

Equally commerce and tourism derive significant benefit from national route development.

Local/Rural

At local or rural level the challenge of social inclusion can be addressed through provision of local transport and I welcome such innovations as the Rural Transport Initative and call upon the Minister to work with his colleague in Minister O’Cuiv in Community, Gaeltacht and Rural Affairs to extend this pilot scheme – to the areas of Kildare North and Wexford at least 🙂

End notes

Restate environmental benefits of public transport – aesthetics, emissions, less congestion etc
Pay tribute to private operators driving raising bar – AerArann, Private Coach Operators
List areas for improvement – reliability, comfort levels, frequency, ..
Road Safety –

Johnstown Updates

I’ve spent a bit of time in Johnstown over the past while, meeting and talking with residents and I’ve itemised below a few of the things I’ve been working on.

Flooding
The village has suffered chronic flooding in recent years and the last few Summers haven’t helped. I looked into this last year and a meeting ocurred between the council and the OPW (Office public works) last Autumn. A consultants report followed and I understand next steps are for KCC to meet with the Johnstown Community Association and to then engage in wider public consultation. I was in the council chamber the other day and the director of services paid particular praise to one man (unnamed), a Kill native, who apparently gave them a tour of the subterranean landscape and was a font of extremly helpful local knowledge. Once the works are documented and agreed, I understand that funding shouldn’t be a problem.

Transport and Traffic
The bus stop in Johnstown is badly positioned, also the old shelter was never replaced. I raised this with Bus Eireann and also that the parking spaces at bus stop are badly located and when occupied can cause difficulties for buses pulling in and out. They agreed with me on all counts but advised that they no longer erect shelters and that is now the responsibility of the council or in a high traffic area an advertising company may oblige (unlikely to work here as the motorway traffic cannot see the shelter so not enough advertising interest). I have raised these issues to the county council along with a number of local traffic and signage issues.

Old Garden Centre
I’ve said before, and it remains my strong view, that the former garden centre site provides an amenity opportunity for the village centre, in the form of a park, playground or other community facility. I contacted the NRA and Kildare County Council on this last year and whilst the initial plan was standard site disposal I understood that was open to review. Johnstown Community Association has developed detailed plans for a community facility at this site of which I am very supportive. This site would appear an excellent location for such a facility.

Johnstown Area Plan
The Johnstown area plan is currently up for renewal and a draft plan should go on display later this year. I made a pre-draft submission last November which covered the Garden Centre site, traffic issues, amenity provision, flooding, education and sporting facilities which can all be seen here.