Western Rail Corridor
Key Priority for Fine Gael
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
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
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
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
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 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
- 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.