Tuesday 16 October 2018

'It won't even make sense for Irish Rail'

Greystones railway station is to be leased out at €50,000 a year - but not everyone's happy with the plan. Mary Fogarty talked to a few locals

The railway station in Greystones
The railway station in Greystones

As Irish Rail plans to lease out the train station in Greystones, campaigns have launched locally opposed to such a move.

The station has gone on the commercial rental market, with a €50,000 per-year price-tag.

According to commercial property agent Lisney, the prospective tenant will need to apply for change of use for the premises.

The full ground floor area of 208 square metres is available to let.

At the time of going to press, Irish Rail had not responded to a query about what plans are in place for access to the station.

Minister Simon Harris held a public meeting on the matter on Monday night in Greystones, while Deputy Stephen Donnelly also has a petition calling for signatures opposing the lease.

'The train station in Greystones is at the heart of our community and I do believe these changes would alter the footfall of people on our Main street and also adversely affect the traffic flows around the town,' said Minister Harris, who has made representations to Irish Rail.

Businesses around the town have a petition at their counters, including the 3 Qs restaurant, Buoys Kitchen, and many others.

Linda Paine at Greystones Antiques said that she thinks that the proposed changes to the station are terrible.

'I'm not aware of anyone who thinks it's a good idea,' she said. 'It's been part of the town for over 100 years and the station is really the heart of the town. On every level, it doesn't make sense.

'I can understand Irish Rail wanting to bring in funds. But even from their viewpoint it won't make sense.

'Certainly the footfall for all the shops will drop drastically,' said Linda. 'A huge amount of visitors come in on a daily basis. If the walkers coming from the Cliff Walk see an entrance on the far side of the track, people won't be coming to the town.'

Linda said that as well as from a business point of view, she is dead against the lease of the station as a mum dropping off and collecting kids. The Darts can be so busy with children and having them squeeze out through a narrow gate isn't ideal.'

Local man David Spurling said that he is against the building being anything other than a train station. 'No it should not be closed. There is a unit in the building, and each business that goes in closes down. It's a very busy little station. I would absolutely wish to see it retained as a train station.'

Rita Forte works at Brooke and Shoals and has lived in Greystones for the past 14 years.

'It's an outrage,' she said. 'We're stunned that this could actually happen. They're talking about an automatic gate near hear and another down by Bocellis.

'The building is beautiful and they're trying to lease it out. We work very hard here in Greystones, all the shops do, and this just means the footfall will decrease.

'The Greystones people are wonderful because they really do support the shop,' said Rita.

'We also get an amazing amount of day-trippers but now I just don't know what's going to happen.'

Joan Leet from Kilcoole comes to Greystones when she has occasion to use the train.

'I wouldn't agree with it,' she said. 'I would prefer to have it stay as it is. It would be more comfortable and you would have covering if it's lashing rain or something.'

Greystones woman Bernadette Kilfeather said that she is shocked. 'I would prefer it stayed as a train station because it gives life to a town and it's easy access,' she said. 'What about the human part of it? We love having contact with somebody, talking to somebody. Everything is machines and this is so sad. I'm in disbelief, I have no words to explain it.'

The letting agents say that the space is 'suitable for a variety of commercial uses, potential coffee shop/bar/restaurant premises (subject to planning).'

The first floor is in residential use and occupied by a tenant and is not included in the letting.

The property was built in 1885 and is listed as a protected structure under The Record of Protected Structures Wicklow Council Area.

Bray People