Irish Rail says it's very disappointing that a long-standing rail freight service between Ballina and Dublin has ceased operating, without warning.
The freight service, with up to 7 return runs each week, has been operating for the past 10 years, carrying up to eighteen 45 ft containers, and facilitating many local industries who have moved their goods from road to rail.
Irish Rail says Dublin Port ceased facilitating the rail freight service last Thursday, for operational reasons, without consulting with it or IWT - the company that runs the service.
Barry Kenny of Irish Rail told Midwest News today that the decision by Dublin Port is very disappointing....
Following queries from Midwest News, Dublin Port says the port is very space-constrained, and trains take up a lot of room. They point out that the Ballina to Dublin container rail service carried 9,789 containers last year - which was less than 1% of all loads handled by the port - while over 99% were moved by HGV's.
There's also increased activity on shipping lines, to the point where the impact of the rail operations is problematic for the operator - the Doyle Shipping Group, who load and unload the containers off the train - and they can no longer service the trains, as ship work takes priority.
Also, due to Brexit, Dublin port has lost 14.6 hectares of land - equivalent to 20 football pitches - to State agencies such as Customs and the Department of Agriculture, for border inspection activities.
In their statement, Dublin Port say they remain committed to rail freight, and have suggested that Irish Rail and IWT work the trains in and out of Irish Rail's East Wall rail yard, and shunt the containers the short distance in and out of the port, in the short-term.
Another option is for the containers to be shipped to Waterford, where there is also a quayside rail connection, which could support a service to Ballina, and they say there's a lot of spare capacity in Waterford.