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Western Rail Corridor
Key Priority for Fine Gael

Fine Gael Statement

Deputy Denis Naughten, Fine Gael Spokesperson on Transport has called on the Minister for Transport to immediately review the Strategic Rail Review (SRR) Report, stating that it is fatally flawed and blatantly contradicts stated Government policy.

One of the key priorities for Fine Gael is to have this line reopened in the immediate future and we intend to pursue the Minister on this key infrastructural development.

Although the SRR's terms of reference explicitly state that it must first and foremost take account of the developmental aims of the National Spatial Strategy, nearly all of the reports funding recommendations prioritise Dublin projects.

The SRR report states:

"The purpose of Strategic rail review is to evaluate the long term rail requirements from both a national perspective in light of emerging spatial planning and regional development trends & policies."

"The examination of the greater Dublin area and in turn as a whole, the nation is dependent on good transportation infrastructure."

However "this report is only dealing with the chronic transport problems of the greater Dublin area, and will only add to the misery of Dublin's citizens, as all roads and rail lines lead to Dublin. Little or know thought or imagination has gone into the role our national rail system can play with regard to decentralisation or indeed "The Spatial Strategy." If properly managed the rail system will assist with economic growth in Rural Ireland, and help alleviate the pressures been put on our capital.

Strategic Rail Review (SRR) prepared by consultants Booz, Allen, Hamiliton contains serious flaws and neither understands nor addresses balanced regional development, a stated government objective and a core element of the National Spatial Strategy.

It is now clearly evident that the SRR is discredited SRR with overblown,incorrect costing of re-activation of the Western Rail Corridor (euro592 million as opposed to the true costing of euro200 million).

Minister Brennan has been badly briefed by the consultants appointed to carry out a review of the Western Rail corridor and this comes on top of a plan by Irish Rail to spend an enormous euro70 million solely on Galway station (1/3 of the cost of completing the Western Rail Corridor, complete with rolling stock - with no breakdowns nor explanations of how these figures were arrived at).

Fine Gael believe that population must not be a prerequisite to the development of key infrastructure such as the Rail Corridor in the Region, as the development of the rail services would do more for balanced regional development by creating access between rural areas, towns and cities in the West strengthening the entire Region.

The typical response from Government has been to identify and create development nodes and growth areas along the Western Corridor and when this has been achieved the government will then consider the provision of the rail link.

That was never the order of things.

First comes the infrastructural development and then the growth follows. This is clearly evident from the increase in property values and the higher density development along the line of the DART, since its introduction. If the Minister for Transport is serious about decentralisation and the balanced regional development outlined in the Spatial Strategy, then he must kick start the process by providing the investment.

The key steps, which must be immediately taken by the Minister for Transport,are:

  • To invest in the upgrading of the western rail line with a view to cost effective measures to make the line viable and a better approach to asset utilisation and a costumer friendly service. (This is a key objective of EU transport policy)
  • The development of commuter services to Sligo, Galway & Limerick and the Mayo Link between Ballina, Castlebar & Westport
  • The immediate use of D.M.U.'s (Arrow type railcars) on the Western Rail Corridor.
  • The use of Tax Credits to encourage commuters to use public transport system.
  • Timetables that will allow an interconnection service of the region.
  • A bus shuttle service at all depots to take passengers to and from rail stations.

A vibrant region in the modern age needs a proper road and rail infrastructure to attract and compete at the top level, to encourage employment and investment to its area, a trade off of one in favour of the other is not an option, even in this time of economic uncertainty.








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