For safety reasons Irish Rail will be fencing this track when the bird nesting season ends. Apparently it is the only unfenced section of track in the country. Currently they are planning to close off the bridges at Three Trout Stream and the Breeches, Newcastle. This will cut an important walk for tourists and locals alike.
‘I have written to The County Manager and Irish Rail demanding that they come up with a solution which keeps the walk open and satisfies safety concerns. A simple bridge can be provided at Three Trout stream and a footpath can be welded onto the existing bridge at the Breeches in the same way as Wicklow Town’s bridge. Money must be found for this.’
The letter with further details follows;
Walk from Greystones to Wicklow Town
Irish Rail will shortly be erecting safety fencing which will probably block access to the Breeches and Three Trout bridges for walkers. In 2008 I tried to get a solution to keep the walk open and a copy of my letter to you is attached. Subsequent to the letter I walked the line with Sean Quirke, an Irish Rail Engineer and a NPWS person.
Irish Rail are obliged for safety reasons to fence the line and there have been some recent incidents that confirm this. They have agreed with the NPWS to delay erecting the fence until the bird nesting season is over. They have also agreed that it will be similar to the fence immediately South of Kilcoole Station on the sea side. This is an acceptable type of fence. The fence will close access to the two bridges as walkers are close to trains on them. The walk is an important one for residents and visitors and must be kept open. There are a number of issues:
Three Trout Stream. When I walked this with the Irish Rail Engineer he wondered if it would be possible to get a second-hand simple bridge. There are adequate foundations and this would be cheap.
Breeches. This is a long bridge but it should be possible to weld a pedestrian bridge to the side as in Wicklow Town’s rail bridge. This will cost money so somebody has to find the money.
Space for Walking. In some sections there is not much space between the path on the coastal defences and the track and adequate space needs to be allowed.
Fence Cutting. At present the fence on the North Side of Three Trout stream is normally cut by people wanting to cross the line. These people may well cut the fence at the bridge access points in future. The best way to stop it is to provide an alternative.
Surface of Walk. Most is good on the old concrete coastal protection blocks. In some places South of Newcastle it is on rough rocks which encourages people to walk on the tracks or on the beach which is a special protection area in that place. Can that be smoothed in some way?
Birdwatchers. Some people have erected tripods on the track, often the highest and most stable point, and don’t hear trains. This is dangerous. A couple of simple raised platforms (wooden or a concrete block) on the sea side would encourage them to stay off the track.
Cycling. Some have suggested that a cycling track should be made. This would be very attractive but on the sea side there is not enough space and the coastal defences will move giving an uneven surface. It would be feasible on the land side but would be a large and expensive job.
I am asking you to make strenuous efforts to ensure that the walk is kept open.