Commuter Train Project – December 1997
When the first public meeting was held in the Presentation Secondary school, the provision of additional train services was suggested as one of the improvements to the services available to the people of the parish.
At that point in time, it was believed that extra trains were an operation that could be included as an item in a “wish list” of requirements. However, as events unfolded and experience of other similar local development groups was shared, this application became crystalised as obtainable if the people of the parish demanded additional public service transport.
Earlier this year I agreed to head a project team on a commuter train service. Aideen Rynne and Muriel Nolan joined me on the team. Our initial mission statement was to investigate the possibility of an early morning commuter train service to Galway and also the possibility of a service to Limerick. We were very encouraged by some facts that were available to the ADC by the Business Development Project team. They had identified skilled people in Athenry who were working in Galway and we saw a potential 200 passengers for the commuter train.
Soundings were made to Iarnróid Eireann regarding the possibility of a railcar set being provided to service Athenry to Galway. The cost of providing this set and the resulting revenue to pay for it was not an attractive option so we returned to the discussion board.
The train from Dublin at 18.55 arrives in Galway at 21.30 hrs and departs at 07.45 the following morning. Now we felt we had a train set for our project. Enquiries among the student population revealed the latest public transport from Galway to Athenry was 18.15 pm. No opportunity existed to use library facilities at U.C.G or R.T.C and avail of public transport to Athenry.
We decided to survey the people of the parish and establish their needs and requirements. Much time was spent compiling the questionnaire. We needed to establish if the people had a need for a public service to Galway earlier than the present 07.50 Bus to Eyre Square. How do people get to work in Galway for 08.00 hrs.? How much does it cost? etc. Would they require additional transport from the Railway Station to their place of work and where was their final destination.?
We eventually agreed on a format that we felt would identify with the needs of the people. This questionnaire was distributed through the postal service to every house in the parish. 1500 leaﬂets were forwarded and the response of less than 100 was initially disappointing. However, statistically the response was no better or worse than other similar questionnaires circulated on other topics
As a team we sat down and analysed the results. The majority of people who responded would support additional train services to Galway. Some people felt there should have been a questionnaire for every member of the family working/studying in Galway. Of course, a lot of people in the parish do not require transport to Galway at all.
Our next conclusion was to target the businesses in Galway with Athenry people employed and also the third level institutions. The Mervue and Ballybrit industrial estates and UCG have been targeted and results are expected soon. We have identified Athenry people working in various businesses and they have agreed to assist with the gathering of data and the distribution of questionnaires among the workforce. Hopefully some of these people will join our team and we are extremely grateful for their assistance in this very important stage of establishing a need for additional services.
Hopefully, when the next newsletter is published, we will have significant progress made on the Athenry – Galway part of the project. Clarification on our research may be helpful. The provision of further transport to Galway for 08.00am work is non-essential now. For this service to be attractive a bus service from the railway station to the industrial estate is vital.
The late train from Galway after l0.00p.m. would target a student market, people visiting hospitals, parties etc.
The question is; DO THE PEOPLE IN ATHENRY WANT ADDITIONAL TRAINS AND WOULD THEY SUPPORT THEM?
THE ANSWER WILL BE IN THE NEXT NEWSLETTER.
Written by Jim Flynn
Published here 15 Feb 2023 and originally published December 1997