Level-crossing timing sends residents off the rails
Published 31/05/2010 | 05:00
RESIDENTS of a small rural community say they are being frustrated by an automated level crossing that appears to have a mind of its own.
Motorists in the Woodfield and Marlow townlands on the outskirts of Ballymote, Co Sligo, have had to endure waits of 15 to 25 minutes when the Sligo/ Dublin train is due to pass since the crossing became automated earlier this year.
But trains passing in the opposite direction result in closures of just three to five minutes.
With seven daily trains on the recently upgraded route, the barrier that separates the dozen or so houses from the town of Ballymote is down for approximately four hours a day.
"It is ruling our lives," said local woman Catherine Hoare, who took part in a weekend protest to highlight the problem.
"I end up either being late for work or being way too early. I was held up for 20 minutes last Saturday. The same goes for parents trying to get children to school.
"It defies logic. How come the wait is so much shorter for the trains from Dublin to Sligo? We have complained but we are not getting answers," she said.
It appears the barrier automatically drops when the train reaches Tubbercurry -- 11km away -- but the train still has to stop in Ballymote before it reaches the level crossing.
Local independent councillor Margaret Gormley, who witnessed the delays first-hand at the protest, said she had lodged a formal complaint with the chairman of the CIE group.
"I appreciate the improvements that have been made on the line but such delays are not on. If there was an emergency, to be held up for up to 25 minutes could make a difference between life and death," she said.
A spokeswoman for Iarnrod Eireann said the problem was being addressed.
"Our signalling engineers are working to reduce the wait time at Ballymote level crossing. In the coming weeks, a new system will be introduced to minimise the wait time," she said.