Ireland’s first community rail partnership has recorded a notable success.
Last month Iarnród Éireann started running a new through Intercity service from Limerick to Dublin via the Nenagh / Ballybrophy branch.
This is the first time for around 30 years that a regular through service to Dublin has operated.
The service departs from Limerick (Colbert) station at 05:15 picking up at Castleconnell, Birdhill, Nenagh, Cloughjordan, Roscrea and Ballybrophy, where it reverses to continue on to Dublin Heuston station, arriving at 08:25. There are also 06:25, 16:05 and 17:05 branch services from Limerick all with connections to Dublin from Ballybrophy.
A change is required for passengers returning in the evening as trains are unable to access the branch platform from the down main line at Ballybrophy.
The Limerick to Ballybrophy branch line has had mixed fortunes in recent years.
At a time when the new motorway to Limerick was opened, services were reduced to 25mph on long stretches of the branch due to temporary speed restrictions, many of which remained in place despite tracks being renewed.
The demise of the Limerick cement factory also lead to the end of the regular freight trains on the line carrying shale. More recently the line had been mooted for possible closure.
A knight in shining armour appeared though in the form of Councillor Virginia O’Dowd from Nenagh. She promoted the services on the railway and managed to get Iarnród Éireann to introduce a morning commuter train into Limerick from Nenagh.
She also managed to establish the first Community Rail Partnership in Ireland for the branch line which without a doubt has contributed to the recent upturn of events and the new through service.