A CAMPAIGN for a new commuter rail service between Limerick and outlying villages will be launched tonight in Castleconnell.
Potential backers say it could take up to 300 cars a day off the roads and prove a commercial winner for Irish Rail.
John McNamara, chairman of the Ahane Montpelier Castleconnell Development Group, said: “It takes just around 12 minutes to travel by train from Castleconnell into Colbert Station. I travel into work in the city and it takes me up to 40 minutes to do the same journey by road.”
The current rail schedule, he claimed, was not suitable for many workers or school students as the morning train did not leave Castleconnell until 11.30.
The return train departs Limerick’s Colbert Station at 4.40pm.
Mr McNamara said: “If the morning train was moved to 8am and the evening train put back it would open the service to up to 200 school goers attending city schools and 100 adult workers. They could even arrange a package for students with buses from the station using the one ticket.”
He said a commuter train could also pick up passengers at Lisnagry and Killonan where stations have been closed down.
Mr McNamara said his group has linked up with the Nenagh Rail Partnership to call for an upgrading of the line between Limerick and Nenagh.
Due to the condition of the track, trains are restricted to a 25mph limit over an 11-mile stretch. As a result of the restriction, the Nenagh /Limerick journey can take up to 50 minutes — deterring commuters from switching from the 30- minute road journey.
Campaigners insist upgrading the track would knock 25 minutes off the travel time between Nenagh and Limerick.
Castleconnell is a well- known tourism spot and attracts anglers from all over the country.
Mr McNamara said a good train service would attract many Limerick city visitors to the village which has scenic riverside walks.
He said: “Cyclists could put their bikes on the train and enjoy the countryside on their bikes. There is great potential if a good commuter service was put in place.”
He said a major investment in the Limerick/ Ballybrophy line could open up Castleconnell to a huge tourist market stretching into the Midlands.
Talks are planned with Irish Rail management.
Tonight’s meeting in in Castleconnell community centre commences at 9pm.