THE group set up to lobby for the introduction of the Limerick/Galway train has hit back at suggestions its future should be examined.
After statistics showed just 35,000 people took the entire journey last year - leading to local TD Willie O’Dea to call for an examination of the route - the West on Track group pointed out the various portions of the route are heavily used.
Along the way to Galway, the train calls at Ennis, Gort and Athenry.
And the group’s spokesperson Colman O Raghallaigh says there has been “phenomenal growth” on the Athenry to Galway portion - and there will be further growth when Oranmore station opens shortly.
The Ennis to Limerick section also remains strong, he added.
Mr O Raghallaigh pointed out that nearly a quarter of a million people travelled on the route - albeit on short trips between Ennis, Limerick, Athenry and Galway.
“Clearly there has been strong growth at either end of the line. This is confirmed in the AECOM/Goodbody report on the future of rail transport published last February in Dublin,” he stated.
In their report, the consultants give a number of solutions on how the train can be widely used between Limerick and Galway.
These include a need to offer promotional tickets, so as to compete with the cheaper bus fares to the City of the Tribes.
They also call for seat reservations, and the rebranding of the trains as Inter-City.
The consultants also want to see five direct services each day connecting Cork, Limerick and Galway, as well as an increase in daily trains from six at present to eight.
In calling for the service’s future to be examined, Mr O’Dea said he believes the route has not been properly advertised.