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VVI Concerned at Irish Rail Plans in Ashtown, Fingal

VVI Concerned at Irish Rail’s Imminent Closure of Ashtown Level Crossing:

Voice of Vision Impairment (VVI) is concerned about Irish Rail plans to replace the level crossing in Ashtown, Co. Fingal, with a massive detour for pedestrians.

The proposed new underpass alternative will increase local journeys by vulnerable pedestrians from 300m to 1.8km, and the possibility of a tunnel, itself, gives rise to fears of anti-social behaviour at this pedestrian pinch-point.

VVI calls on Irish Rail to investigate the replacement of the level crossing with an adjacent over-track, step-free, footbridge, in order to preserve the independence and quality of life of vulnerable pedestrians in the Ashtown/Coolmine area.

What Irish Rail Says…

“The plan is to close all level crossings on the Maynooth line with the upgrade to DART. With an increase in services, level crossings would be closed to road traffic the majority of the time leading to major road traffic backlogs and are therefore no longer viable.

Irish Rail’s Access Officer informed us on January 14th, 2021

Due to the layout of the Ashtown crossing with adjacent canal, an overhead bridge would not be workable so a new layout going underneath the railway and canal is the preferred proposal. This would have pedestrian walkways and cycle lanes with a suitable slope for mobility impaired members of the public. Access to the station will be maintained.

See link for more information in regard to Ashtown:

https://www.irishrail.ie/Admin/getmedia/d73fabb6-6a02-47ec-90e4-a8137590c5fa/Ashtown-Roadbridge-Graphic-(A4).pdf

VVI’s Detailed Response

In relation to the closure of Ashtown level crossing, VVI has concerns regarding the lengthy new route to cross the tracks via Mill Road, access to Ashtown Station/Shops; as well as security concerns regarding the likelihood of anti-social behaviour at the pedestrian pinch-point that would be created with the installation of the pedestrian/cycling tunnel under the tracks.

We note from the document ‘DARTWest-brochure-english.pdf’, that:

“It is proposed to close the Ashtown level crossing and provide a vehicular road bridge with pedestrian and cycle facilities. The Emerging Preferred Option provides a new road bridge under the existing railway and the Royal Canal that will be located west of the existing Ashtown Level Crossing predominantly following the route of the existing Mill Lane.”

DART West

We also note that “Access to the station will be maintained.”

Currently, pedestrians from the Ashtown Roundabout, Halfway House Pub, Ashbrook, Martin Savage Park etc can mobilise 300m to go to Supervalu Rathbourne for example, crossing the level crossing en route.

The westbound platform for rail services to Castleknock Clonsilla, Maynooth etc can be accessed without having to cross the tracks.

The eastbound platform for rail services to City Centre etc can either be accessed by crossing the footbridge or walking accross the level crossing when it is open to traffic.

We note there is no mention of a proposed lift or accessible (step free) pedestrian overbridge at Ashtown in the plans.

Pedestrians with mobility difficulties will therefore have to travel what we would estimate to be 1.8km detour via the Mill Road railway/canal underbridge/underpass in order to go shopping at Supervalu Rathbourne or indeed just to access the city bound platform at Ashtown Station.

In the case of Coolmine level crossing, we note that:
“It is proposed to close the Coolmine level crossing and provide a vehicular road bridge with a separate pedestrian and cyclist bridge. The Emerging Preferred Option provides a new road bridge crossing over the railway line and Royal Canal that will connect St. Mochta’s Grove / Station Court located to the north with Riverwood Court Road to the south. A new standalone pedestrian and cycle bridge will be provided over the railway line and Royal Canal immediately adjacent to Coolmine Station.”

As well as our safety concerns, the excessive detour just to go shopping or indeed to access the city bound platform when travelling from the Ashtown Roundabout is significant.

Likewise residents with mobility difficulties unable to use the footbridge on the Rathbourne side of the track will have to cover an excessive journey simply to access the Westbound platform to Maynooth etc.

Conclusion

As things stand, the proposed plan is necessarily discriminatory against those with mobility impairments, and is bound to have a negative impact on the lives and independence of disabled pedestrians travelling in the Ashtown/Coolmine area.

We think it essential for safety and mobility/independence of the most vulnerable, that Irish Rail investigate the provision of an accessible footbridge at the to-be-closed Ashtown Level crossing in order to maintain seamless access for pedestrians.

Everyone has the right to safe access to their environment and equal participation in their community.

VVI’s concerns were put to Irish Rail on January 15th, and we await a response.

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