Speculation is mounting that up to 31 stations on the national rail network could be under threat after a national newspaper recently reported that Iarnrod Éireann is chronically underfunded.
The article, published in the Sunday Independent on August 17, claimed the railway operator needs an additional €60 million a year to maintain the existing network. It also stated that an in-depth review of services across the network has begun, which it said could result in reduced services and even line closures, while the futures of stations serving less than 100 passengers per day could also come under scrutiny.
One of the stations which could potentially be affected by such a development is Dromod in County Leitrim, which caters for 81 passengers per day, according to the National Transport Authority’s 2012 National Rail Census.
“It would be a disaster if it ever closed,” said Independent Councillor Des Guckian, who lives in the area. “I would seriously challenge the figures. I don’t know where they’re getting them from; no one’s been at the station counting heads.
“There are serious numbers of cars parked at the station each day - the place is full - and last week I took the morning train and there were around 30 people waiting to get on that service alone.”
Cllr Guckian added that the closure of Dromod Station would have a negative impact in areas beyond the village itself.
“It serves a wide hinterland, which takes in Rooskey and other parts of Roscommon, and extends beyond Ballinamore.
“It would be an extreme loss to the area,” he asserted, before going on to say that Dromod and Rooskey have also experienced “dramatic” reductions in bus services in recent times.
Speaking to the Longford Leader, Iarnrod Éireann’s Communications Manager, Barry Kenny, conceded that the company is investigating a number of cost-cutting measures, but branded suggestions that station closures are being considered as “absolute nonsense”.
“We are reviewing services at present but we have not targeted the closure of any stations,” he continued.
Regarding the current strike action being taken by Iarnrod Éireann staff unhappy over the introduction of temporary pay cuts, Mr Kenny added that, “the pay measures have been implemented, and we would urge the trade unions to call off their industrial action.”
The strike, which began last Sunday, August 24, forced a two-day shutdown of the country’s railways, with the NBRU and SIPTU planning further action on Saturday and Sunday, September 7 and 8, and Sunday, September 21, which coincides with the GAA’s All-Ireland finals.