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West=On=Track - News

Optimism Grows for Western Rail Corridor

Mayo News - 29th December 2004

Mr. Pat McCann, chief executive of Jury's Doyle hotel group, who chairs the special committee set up by the former Minister for Transport, Mr. Seamus Brennan, to make the case for the restoration of the western rail corridor, has called on local authorities, chambers of commerce and all relevant agencies to publicly re-state their support for the project at this stage. Mr. McCann, a former general manager of the Westport Ryan hotel - now the Westport Woods Hotel - was speaking at the annual meeting of the Western Inter-County Railway Committee. He said he was impressed by what he bad seen and heard over the past six months and was now more optimistic about the project than he was at the outset. He hoped the report of the special committee would be published in the Spring of 2005.

For many years the committee has been making the case for the restoration of the cross-radial railway from Collooney to Ennis, under the chairmanship of former TD and Co. Councillor, Martin Joe O'Toole. Mr. O'Toole stepped down from the position at the annual meeting, but was elected honorary president of the committee in recognition of his work for the committee over many years. The new chairperson is Cllr. Micheal McGreal of Roscommon and sociologist Fr. Mícheál MacGréil of Westport continues as Joint Secretary. The new chairperson urged all delegates to renew their efforts to see this project through to its completion in restoring the rail link between Collooney and Ennis. This would bring some balance to the development of rail infrastructure in Ireland. He welcomed the support of Cabinet Ministers and looked forward to the McCann Report early in the New Year. From the beginning, the Western Inter-County Railway Committee had received cross-party support and that was the way it should remain. "We were all united behind a project that would help our people," he said.

Dr. Mícheál MacGréil, SJ., expressed his satisfaction at the presence of such a large attendance of Councillors, many of whom were on the Western Inter-County Railway Committee for the first time. He traced the history of the campaign since 1979 and referred to the two reports produced by the Committee in 1981 and again in 1989. One of the most important achievements of the Committee was the preservation of the track and thoroughfare from Sligo to Limerick. This was guaranteed by Minister Seamus Brennan T.D.in 1992. The value of that decision was that it made it possible the renewal of the track at a relatively low cost.

"The arrival of West-on-Track on the scene in 2003 has added momentum to the campaign and raised the awareness of the importance of the Western Rail Corridor as a transport infrastructure for the West of Ireland and for the whole country. The activities of West-on-Track were complementary to the work of the Western Inter-County Railway Committee. Recent developments in relation to the Western Rail Corridor have raised the hopes of many in the West of Ireland that the Government will respond positively to our case." Once the track was delivered, he hoped the Western Inter-County Railway Committee would continue as a support group for the maximum use of the rail services (passenger and freight) in the years ahead as part of an adequate bi-modal transport infrastructure for the region.








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