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Double tracking of rail lines to Galway City moves a step closer

  • #2
    Registered Users Posts: 4,355 ✭✭✭ DaCor


    With the release of the EY & JASPER reports into extending the WRC totally quashing that idea, double tracking of the existing line into Galway city is now a more realistic prospect.

    https://www.rte.ie/news/connacht/2021/0111/1188855-western-rail-corridor/
    Western Rail Corridor extension would not provide value for money - report

    A long-delayed report has concluded that the extension of the Western Rail Corridor (WRC) would not provide value for money and would do little to counter traffic congestion or reduce carbon emissions.

    The financial and economic appraisal was commissioned by Iarnród Éireann in 2019, but has only now been published by the Department of Transport.

    It was carried out by the accountancy firm, EY and runs to almost 140 pages.

    Following years of campaigning, a section of the rail line between Athenry and Ennis reopened in 2010.

    Costing €106m, it allowed for the reintroduction of train services between Galway and Limerick.

    But plans to re-activate the line northwards to Tuam (Phase 2) and then to Claremorris (Phase 3) were abandoned during the last recession.

    Following the 2016 General Election, the then government committed to reviewing the proposed project.

    The EY report examines the case for further expansion of the line, with a cost benefit analysis into such a course of action.

    It puts the cost of reopening the line to Claremorris at €263.8m (excluding VAT).

    This would cover the installation of 52km of track, as well as the necessary signalling and infrastructural works along the route.

    Projections are based on the line being operational from 2026, with annual passenger numbers of 575,000 by 2030.

    The majority of these journeys would replace journeys on buses (67.5%) rather than car journeys (22.8%).

    This would deliver €2.2m in revenue to Irish Rail, but operating and maintenance costs would be in the region of €3.6m per year.

    While the revenues generated by reopening the WRC would not cover operating costs, the EY report also assessed the wider economic benefits that might stem from the expansion of rail services.

    However, it found that the length of the line, travelling via Athenry to get into and out of Galway, meant road travel would remain faster, even allowing for congestion on the approach routes to the city.

    The report says the number of car journeys that would be avoided as a result of the line reopening would be relatively limited and that there would be a negligible impact on congestion or journey times as a result.

    It is pessimistic about the project's potential to bring about a significant increase in rail freight too.

    A total of nine new rail crossings would have to be constructed to facilitate the return of trains.

    The report concludes that the economic benefits associated with the reactivation do not offset the costs involved.

    An independent review of the EY report has also been published. It was carried out by the European Investment Bank's JASPERS agency.

    That analysis says the project, as envisaged, presents "a very weak justification for investment".

    The review found the need for the project had not been demonstrated and described the economic benefits as "unlikely to be significant".

    The JASPERS analysis says it is hard to see how there would be a shift in travel patterns if train services were available along the west coast, and that the project would not lead to significant changes in strategic connectivity.

    Here's hoping the remaining single line sections on the Galway-Dublin line get double tracked and a commuter station gets opened at Murrough asap


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Comments

  • #2


    Thankfully that Tuam nonsense is put to bed and money can actually be spent improving rail services in the west. Double traking on Athenry-Galway and Portarlington-Athlone should be top of the list for the west. I expect the capaigners to moan that Portarlington isn't 'the west' while utterly ignoring the benefits of fast hourly trains Galway to Dublin and a massive improvement to Dublin-Westport.


  • #2


    I hope there is a big push in this. I wouldn’t be a big train user precisely because the 5-10 times I tried commenting Galway - Oranmore, the bloody evening train waits for 10 mins in the siding until another one arrives! Very frustrating on what should be a very short trip. I live in south Galway, but wouldn’t go any further than Oranmore as it’s a balls of a journey after that.


  • #2


    Presumably all the over/under bridges between Portarlington and Galway are wide enough to allow double tracking?


  • #2


    Mearings wrote: »
    Presumably all the over/under bridges between Portarlington and Galway are wide enough to allow double tracking?

    It's likely to require some CPO's and significant construction in some places


  • #2


    DaCor wrote: »
    Here's hoping the remaining single line sections on the Galway-Dublin line get double tracked and a commuter station gets opened at Murrough asap

    If the line between GY and Athenry is improved, what are the suggested new stations? Where?

    I was thinking at the LC in Roscam?

    You mention Murrough - would that be near the Ballyloughnane bridge?


  • #2


    Geuze wrote: »
    If the line between GY and Athenry is improved, what are the suggested new stations? Where?

    I was thinking at the LC in Roscam?

    You mention Murrough - would that be near the Ballyloughnane bridge?

    I would think Roscam is too close to the Oranmore station for a station at this stage but that doesn't rule it out further into the future

    More likely will be in Murrough, possibly around Ballyloughan or to the East of there. But thats just my own personal guesswork, who knows.


  • #2


    I see your point about a possible location of Roscam station.

    I was just thinking about all the houses in Dougiska, and a bus from Briarhill going along the main Doughiska road, into Roscam, and dropping pax at the station.

    I suppose the busses from Parkmore / Dougiska / Roscam could call at the Murrough station.


  • #2


    Geuze wrote: »
    I suppose the busses from Parkmore / Dougiska / Roscam could call at the Murrough station.

    Hardly worth it though. With the time taken to unload, wait for a train, load the train, and an extra 2 mins walk from the station - they may as well just stay on the bus.

    Oranmore station will make sense if Ardaun south ever gets built, 'cos there will be lots of people within walking distance. At the moment it's more of a P&R. But one at Roscam would have hundreds immediately within walking distance.


  • #2


    cgcsb wrote: »
    Thankfully that Tuam nonsense is put to bed and money can actually be spent improving rail services in the west. Double traking on Athenry-Galway and Portarlington-Athlone should be top of the list for the west. I expect the capaigners to moan that Portarlington isn't 'the west' while utterly ignoring the benefits of fast hourly trains Galway to Dublin and a massive improvement to Dublin-Westport.

    Bit in bold.
    As I recall, there's a section of line going through Tullamore town where the stone comes right up against the train on both sides. (Street View) Can't see that getting double tracked anytime soon.


  • #2


    flazio wrote: »
    Bit in bold.
    As I recall, there's a section of line going through Tullamore town where the stone comes right up against the train on both sides. (Street View) Can't see that getting double tracked anytime soon.

    A very short section of the Dublin-Belfast line is single track (Boyne Viaduct) so that Tullamore section might not be a big issue


  • #2


    Funding has been approved for the passing loop at Oranmore.

    https://www.rte.ie/news/connacht/2021/0312/1203564-west-regeneration/


  • #2


    How long might construction take?

    Is the planning system involved?

    I presume:

    (1) earthworks - embankments - etc.
    (2) install two points/switches
    (3) lay new track
    (4) will there be a new platform? I think there are stations with a passing loop, without two platforms?
    (5) a second platform would mean either an overbridge or a tunnel?


  • #2


    Geuze wrote: »
    Funding has been approved for the passing loop at Oranmore.

    https://www.rte.ie/news/connacht/2021/0312/1203564-west-regeneration/

    Presume this means that more trains on the track in and out of galway city?


  • #2


    https://galwaybayfm.ie/galway-bay-fm-news-desk/step-forward-for-e24m-redevelopment-of-ceannt-station/

    This mentions three extra platforms.

    Can I clarify that there are two at the moment?

    Five seems like a lot?

    I have noticed some work going on during the last two years on the outer track, the one without a platform.


  • #2


    There are two platforms right now, one for Galway-Dublin and one for Galway-Limerick

    Long term, the full Galway Dublin line will be double tracked, which will open up a lot of possibilities (non-stop services).

    But before that you are looking at possible commuter rail as far as Athenry, with commuter stops adding additional stations (Ardaun, Renmore, Roscam etc) so commuter services will need their own platforms.

    As for why 5, possibly future proofing though this would be out of chartacter


  • #2


    DaCor wrote: »
    As for why 5, possibly future proofing though this would be out of chartacter

    planning ahead in Ireland?
    say it ain't so..


  • #2


    Is double-tracking Galway-Dublin possible in some spots with narrow bridges etc.?


  • #2


    WallyGUFC wrote: »
    Is double-tracking Galway-Dublin possible in some spots with narrow bridges etc.?

    All of it used to be double track between athlone and Galway and the athlone to mullingar section was double track so shouldn't be an issue other than the bit between portarlington and Athlone, even if there are a couple of single track sections there, that's nothing that good signalling can't overcome and provide a fast hourly or even half hourly intercity service


  • #2


    DaCor wrote: »

    As for why 5, possibly future proofing though this would be out of chartacter

    One for the Gluas connection :)


  • #2


    DaCor wrote: »
    There are two platforms right now, one for Galway-Dublin and one for Galway-Limerick

    Long term, the full Galway Dublin line will be double tracked, which will open up a lot of possibilities (non-stop services).

    But before that you are looking at possible commuter rail as far as Athenry, with commuter stops adding additional stations (Ardaun, Renmore, Roscam etc) so commuter services will need their own platforms.

    As for why 5, possibly future proofing though this would be out of chartacter

    Stabling for frequent service perhaps?


  • #2


    So is there any information on how much the journey time would be reduced by double tracking these sections? Currently the fastest time from Galway to Dublin would be about 2 hours and 20 minutes.


  • #2


    So is there any information on how much the journey time would be reduced by double tracking these sections? Currently the fastest time from Galway to Dublin would be about 2 hours and 20 minutes.

    i don't think there will be much time saving, but more of a much bigger increase in frequency.
    Time saving comes when tracks are designed for speed which in Ireland they are not and likely never will be. Also helps if you have less stops.


  • #2


    So is there any information on how much the journey time would be reduced by double tracking these sections? Currently the fastest time from Galway to Dublin would be about 2 hours and 20 minutes.

    Just to be clear, the work about to be undertaken is for a passing loop and additional platform only at Oranmore. Being realistic the only time savings this will bring is in relation to delays due to passing only. Actual travel times wont be improved.

    There are currently no proposals for double tracking elsewhere on the Galway-Dublin line. For real time savings the whole line would need to be done, as well as removing the remaining level crossings to allow for far higher speeds

    There is a proposal for double tracking all the way to Athenry.

    Back in the mists of time, Galway to Oranmore was double tracked, but Oranmore to Ballinasloe was single tracked and Ballinasloe to Athlone was double tracked with Athlone to Portarliongton single tracked.

    To do the whole line (and it should 100% be done) would involve significant engineering works, CPO's along the single tracked sections, considerable disruption and a lot of expense.

    Do all of it though, and change some of the stations to request only stops and you would easily get sub 2hr journey times


  • #2


    DaCor wrote: »
    Just to be clear, the work about to be undertaken is for a passing loop and additional platform only at Oranmore. Being realistic the only time savings this will bring is in relation to delays due to passing only. Actual travel times wont be improved.


    There is a proposal for double tracking all the way to Athenry.

    Thanks.

    I understand that the passing loop at Oranmore won't reduce journey times, but will reduce delays due to passing.

    Can I also ask:

    (1) this extra loop will allow more flexibility in scheduling, that seems correct? As trains can be scheduled to pass each other in Oranmore.

    (2) will the loop allow more frequency between GY-Athenry? I specifically mean more frequency with the existing fleet?

    (3) will the loop mean GY-Athenry shuttles? As well as the usual GY-DUB and GY-LK services.


  • #2


    DaCor wrote: »
    Back in the mists of time, Galway to Oranmore was double tracked, but Oranmore to Ballinasloe was single tracked and Ballinasloe to Athlone was double tracked with Athlone to Portarliongton single tracked.

    This implies that doubling GY-Athenry is not as easy as I thought.

    It seems to suggest that land acquisition will be required beyond Oranmore.


  • #2


    Geuze wrote: »
    Thanks.

    I understand that the passing loop at Oranmore won't reduce journey times, but will reduce delays due to passing.

    Can I also ask:

    (1) this extra loop will allow more flexibility in scheduling, that seems correct? As trains can be scheduled to pass each other in Oranmore.

    (2) will the loop allow more frequency between GY-Athenry? I specifically mean more frequency with the existing fleet?

    They are aiming for hourly services so this will help but won't achieve that
    Geuze wrote: »
    (3) will the loop mean GY-Athenry shuttles? As well as the usual GY-DUB and GY-LK services.

    I know there is talk of a commuter rail service from Athenry to Galway stopping at Oranmore, Ardaun and likely one, possibly 2 other locations (no idea where). When that will happen is anyone's guess

    Thing is, with all of this, we're easily about 20 years behind where we should be.

    Take the Galway - Dublin line as an example. In 2011, the 2030 Rail Network Strategy document called for "...investments to reduce journey times on rail corridors, with the prime emphasis on the Cork and Galway routes, where there is high existing or potential passenger demand".

    These included
    • double tracking between Portarlington and Athlone (2015-2020)
    • request only stops
    • electrification (2020-2025)

    None of the above has started or even begun planning or even talking about planning.

    The same document also stated
    Dublin-Galway: Similarly to Dublin-Cork, a short term investment programme aimed at reducing journey times to no more than 2 hours would yield a large economic return. Iarnród Éireann has identified measures that could be introduced in the short term to reduce the journey time to 1hr 30 minutes. These are worthy of further consideration.

    An hourly service on this route would be attractive in the short term, if it can be introduced with the existing fleet and without significant capital investment or negative impacts on existing stopping patterns. This appears to be the case.

    Further growth in passenger numbers and increases in the value of these passengers’ time will make double tracking from Portarlington to Athlone an attractive investment in the medium term, particularly to improve the reliability of the service.

    In the longer term, electrification can be justified on the same basis as Dublin-Cork. In fact, the Dublin- Galway line offers a better return on electrification than the latter.

    In Mar of this year IE published a "Strategy 2027" document which set out an updated list of aims. In terms of improvements for the Galway line their focus is now
    • 60% increase in services to hourly all day with some improvement in journey times.
    • Development of Ceannt Station as a transport hub
    • Upgrade of infrastructure at Oranmore to allow for local services from Athenry (looks like that answers your question above)

    Aims for 2040
    • Electrification.....maybe
    • Double track Galway to Athenry
    • Double track Portarlington to Athlone

    Its bonkers that money is not being thrown at this and commuter rail for Athenry but for the commuter rail, to be honest, I don't see anything happening with that until they break ground on the 4th or 5th estate in Ardaun and even then they will only start talking about it, rather than implement it.


  • #2


    Thanks.

    The way you explain it, it's depressing.

    I have an old National Development Plan book somewhere, maybe 25 years old, I must pull it out and see what was planned back then.

    I keep an eye on developments in railways in UK / BE / FR / DE, and we always seem way behind.



    (even a small thing - why spend money on so much metal fencing, even around Athenry station, spend money on faster services instead)


  • #2


    I would hope any future commuter service will include stops at Roscam and Murrrough /Renmore.
    I do'nt see how they will tie in a link to Ardaun on the existing line.


  • #2


    kabakuyu wrote: »
    I do'nt see how they will tie in a link to Ardaun on the existing line.

    See the level crossing just east of the current Oranmore station: that's the south end of Ardaun.


  • #2


    See the level crossing just east of the current Oranmore station: that's the south end of Ardaun.

    I thought that townland where the crossing is was called Gurrane:confused: I always thought that Ardaun was north of the dual carriageway and only extended east to the city boundary.Does it go beyond the city boundary?


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