Our train station is getting a facelift — now the trains must follow suit

An overview of how the new train hall at Ceannt Station will look.

An overview of how the new train hall at Ceannt Station will look.

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. For the vast majority of visitors to Galway those who come to shop to visit, to study, or to stay, the first impression for many years has been the dour greasy uninviting Ceannt Station. Ostensibly an impressive building in its day, for decades now, it has been outdated and unable to cater for the tens of thousands of people who use it weekly.

Within the next six weeks, the hungry shovels of the BAM diggers (yes, the BAM from the Children’s Hospital project ) will tear into the oil-stained gravel at Ceannt Station and set about cleaning up an area that has lain ignored for too long. When those diggers depart at the end of the project, what Galway will have will be an ultra-modern transport hub, a bright environment that will offer safety, catering, warmth and welcome to all who use it.

For a whole new generation, it will represent the welcoming face of Galway city, one that will at last take on the challenge offered it by the existing bus station at Fairgreen.

The increase in platforms from two to five will also in time multiply the variety and frequency of rail services in and out of the city.

There is no doubt that the works will have some impact on the rail-using public, and it is to be hoped that Iarnrod Éireann will, through local media, inform passengers of any possible disruption over the coming while.

It is to be hoped as well that when the works are complete that the quality of the new carriages on the rail line will be on a par with those used elsewhere in the country. Rail travel used to be a thing of comfort; with catering and safety guaranteed on board.

Ever since Covid when the trains travelled with the windows opened, the warmth and safety of customers seems to have been disregarded. There are many complaints of anti-social behaviour, or draughty carriages; of rows involving the booking system, and of an absence of staff to sort out any grievances.

How difficult can it be to provide an on-board catering service? Many of those travelling to and from the capital are elderly and doing so for medical reasons. The inability to provide a basic cup of tea or coffee seems ludicrous in this day and age. Full breakfasts were available thirty years ago...and catering is still available on lines from east to south.

On the bright side, the works will represent the beginning of a new Galway and the start of the enabling development that will lead to that area being transformed by this project and the imminent arrival of Augustine Hill. A bright new dawn arrives in the bright new year.

Our city centre will be made more welcoming, and more safe. For a city without an airport, we depend on enabling safe travel through other means. Rail will form a key part of the new commute of this century. As will cycling, as we aim to reduce our dependence on gas-guzzling static vehicles. This development will give more people the choice to commute by rail, but only if we can guarantee comfort and seats and warmth. Let us ensure the challenge is met.

 

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