Irish Rail has confirmed it is to cease passenger services on the Waterford to Rosslare line in the southeast.
The company said it will explore the possibility of keeping the line open as a tourist/heritage railway, but it maintained that with passenger numbers at 25 per day, the route was “unsustainable”.
A public meeting was held in Wellingtonbridge recently to highlight concerns over the proposed imminent closure of the railway line between Rosslare Europort and Waterford.
The line which stops at Wellingtonbridge also runs through stations in Bridgetown, Campile and Ballycullane before making its way across the Barrow Bridge and onto Waterford.
Among those in attendance were representatives of Iarnród Éireann including the company’s District Manager, Emmett Cotter, the Acting Station Manager for Wexford, David Murphy and the Service Planning Manager, Myles McHugh.
The public meeting, which was held in Tir na nÓg, was organised by the ‘Save the Waterford Rosslare Rail link’ group.
The organising committee was composed of Wexford Borough Councillor, Joe Ryan, Jane McGrath, Tanya Fenlon, Rebecca Kehoe and AnnMarie Dillon.
Mr. McHugh confirmed at the meeting that it was “only a matter of weeks” before the final train will travel along the line.
The railway company’s representatives stated that the economic nonviability of the line was the reason for the imminent cessation of the service.
“Year on year we were seeing the take-up on the service declining and we had to see how we could address that,” said Mr. McHugh.
“We looked at the cost base and there is only so much saving you can make without cutting the service,” he added. He also said the ‘pattern of foot-passengers’ travelling on the line had changed dramatically.
Mr. McHugh also commented on the detrimental effect the loss of the sugar beet industry had on the line.
He said passengers who used the train to get to Waterford for educational purposes would be accommodated by Bus Éireann.
Labour Party T.D., Brendan Howlin, also addressed the meeting. He said the line was never marketed of developed to its full potential. He also said the decision to close it prior to the public meeting taking place was “profoundly disrespectful” to the people of Co. Wexford. He also said that the railway line was never properly marketed by Irish Rail.
No cuts are proposed in the national roadbuilding programme, the McCarthy report recommended the Government should consider closing three “lightly used” rail lines – Limerick Junction- Rosslare, the Nenagh line and Manulla Junction-Ballina. These rail lines “should be closed and replacement bus services provided . . . at less cost to the Exchequer”.
A local group has been set up to fight Irish Rail’s planned closure of the line.