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Downgrading of Tullamore Train Station Highlighted

3rd July 2017

Camilla McLoughlin

THE President of Tullamore Chamber of Commerce, Ann Starling says she is very disappointed with the response to a letter she wrote to Iarnrod Eireann in which she expressed concerns over the downgrading of services at Tullamore train station.

In addition she is unhappy that Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, Offaly Deputies Marcella Corcoran Kennedy and Carol Nolan did not reply to her requests for support.

She said Deputy Barry Cowen was the only one to respond and to also correspond with Iarnrod Eireann.

Ms Starling, had written to Chief Executive Officer, David Franks on behalf of the chamber, raising a number of issues regarding the station.

The chamber president spoke of difficulties being experienced by the elderly and disabled at the station and pointed towards the lack of staff to help such passengers on and off the train. She gave the example of the station lift which appears to be out of order on a regular basis.

She also drew attention to the need for an efficient service in and out of Tullamore station from a business, cultural and tourism point of view. She stressed that many chamber members promote their business by citing the presence of a train station within walking distance of the town centre.

In addition she highlighted the large number of tourists who come to Tullamore to visit the DEW visitor centre and expressed the hope that the Distillery located in Clonminch may attract even more visitors to the town.

Replying, Mr Franks said, Iarnrod Eireann will shortly be introducing onboard staff on Intercity train services to provide assistance to disabled passengers, boarding and alighting at stations.

With regard to the station lift, he said: ''A routine maintenance is in place to minimise the frequency of lift faults at stations.'' Mr Frank's went on to say he appreciated the importance of the rail service to Tullamore, adding ''...in conjunction with the National Transport Authority we are committed to the upgrade of our network and services to the benefit of existing and new customers in locations such as Tullamore.''

However, Ms Starling felt, '' this was a very poor response.'' She said the station ''is a vital part of business life in Tullamore. We can't afford to have a downgraded train service, in and out of the town.''

She was also critical of the policy which leaves the station unstaffed for periods of time. saying ''it's not good enough, for a busy station to have no one there on arrival or departure.''

in his letter to Mr Franks, Barry Cowen TD, gave an example of one passenger who had to wait for a staff member to come from Clara to lift her and her wheelchair across the stairs as there was no one on duty in Tullamore.

On another occasion the train had to be reversed to allow the same wheelchair bound passenger to get off.

He also spoke of an elderly man, who, following surgery in Dublin travelled back to Tullamore only to find the lift was not working, it took him a considerable amount of time assisted by his family to get across the footbridge. ''This gentleman was in severe pain and this caused him unnecessary stress,'' he added.

Deputy Cowen, asked for the matter to be ''investigated as a matter of urgency, and revert to his office as soon as possible.''

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