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‘No decision’ on future operation of train station

Story by Olga Aughey

Thursday, 6th July, 2017 3:53pm

‘No decision’ on future operation of train station

Fears are mounting among the commuting public and members of the business community that Irish Rail may have plans to scale back its operations there due to the lack of staff availabilty to help persons with disabilities using the service, and the ongoing problems with the building's lift.

Tullamore Chamber recently highlighted their concerns about a possible downgrading of the facility in a letter to Irish Rail, citing the problems with the lift, accessibility and the need for an efficient service in and out of Tullamore Station for business and tourism to thrive into the future.

Irish Rail has stated that 82% of all revenue in 2016 came through online, ticket vending and leapcard channels, so the need for booking offices at stations has greatly reduced.

The Offaly Independent contacted Irish Rail in relation to the fears that the station is facing a downgrade. 

In response, the rail company said it is currently working with management at Tullamore station with regard to its future operations.

"We are currently carrying out a review of our customer service needs right across the network to ensure that we can provide the best possible customer service to our customers," said a spokesperson.

"As part of this review we are looking at the staffing levels at stations throughout the country. 82% of all revenue in 2016 can through online, ticket vending and leapcard channels, so the need for booking offices at stations has greatly reduced.

"However, there is a need for customer service and this is what this review is all about. Once the reorganisation is completed we will have a mix of stations that will have fully staffed booking office, a customer service agent on the platform and some self-service stations.

"No decision has yet been made on Tullamore, we are working with local management on an implementation plan and this will be communicated to our customers also,” the spokesperson told the Offaly Independent on Thursday. 

"As part of this reorganisation we will also have a customer service agent on every service, who will be available to assist those with mobility and sensory impairments,” according to Irish Rail.

"None of these changes have yet come into being at Tullamore.

From time to time the station can be unmanned due to illness or annual leave," the spokesperson pointed out.

Irish Rail went on to say that it advises those travelling who need assistance to either call Tullamore or Athlone train stations before travelling to ensure that assistance is available when needed. 

"The lift is currently out of service. Anyone who wishes to alight at Tullamore who needs assistance we are happy to help at a station on either side and provide onward road transport to Tullamore while the lift is out of order," the spokeserson said after being contacted by the Offaly Independent.

For those wishing to travel who need the use of the lift they are advised to contact Tullamore Train Station on 057 93 214 31, or Athlone on 090 64 73 300, before they travel if they require assistance of staff.

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