Was bemused to read in paper today about the "opening" of the Midleton rail line. What of course, you are not informed of, is this is something similar to the split of the DART services in Dublin at Howth junction, so trains could serve as far north as Malahide. Very nice, but effectively the service was split in two between services serving Howth and service going on to Malahide. So the first question I would have is how many trains each way per day, and to what extent has this been done at the expense of existing Cobh-bound rail users?
From 4th August there will be a full service of 21 trains per day, on 30 minute intervals from 6.15 from the city (a HUGE improvement on the appalling "service" which I had no choice but to endure when working in Little Island around 2003, where in order to be at work for 07:00 I had to get a train at 5.45!!) Trains from Midleton start at 6.45 - good for city bound commuters who start at 8am, but no use to anybody starting at 7am (which actually means that hundreds of workers in the call centres around Penrose Wharf and MacCurtain St will still be forced to drive into the city or driving to Glounthaune and get the 05:50 service which arrives in town at 06:14. There will remain 22 services from Cobh, which seem to be more or less the same as now.
This does have the effect of increasing the level of service on the Glounthaune and Little Island stations from 22 to 43 services per day - unfortunately probably a couple of years too late for many of the workers now laid off from the now delpleting industrial estates in Little Island (not to mention doing nothing to compensate for the fact that the estates are so far on foot from the station). However it will open up the area, albeit many years too late.
Workers from the industrial estates in Carrigtohill will remain marooned to cars unless the 6:45 is put back by about 10-15 minutes as most start at 07:00 and there is enough of a walk from the station to make that train too late. (Then again you do also need to take into account the fact that routinely, employers ignore transport availability when designing shifts).
As for fares the same anomaly that regards fares in general apply also to Midleton - in other words the price of a train ticket is more heavily subsidised than bus and therefore cheaper. About 6.50 return as opposed to about 7.60 on the bus. For those who are in a position to use the service to commute, however, and don't have free parking, its definitely worthwhile and will undercut private car use. That said, I would think its usage would be limited and mostly involve city-bound commuters. But its definitely a step further and more importantly, has not been done at the expense of existing and long suffering commuters.
The bad side is that there is still a need for more signalling since the service isn't done - surely the launch should have been delayed until this was done?