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Last Chance for Western Rail Corridor

Western People - 19th January 2005


There is an uncontestable case for the re-opening of the Western Rail Corridor with up to 11,000 container movements from the region worth an estimated euro4 billion presently being moved annually by road, writes Christy Loftus.

Each forty foot container represents ten thousand times more damage to the road infrastructure than a single car and yet hundreds of thousands of tonnes of timber is being moved from the West through Dublin to Waterford causing inestimable maintenance problems on the road network.

A report due to be presented to the government in March will highlight the benefits to be gained from the re-introduction of rail connections along the West coast to the South East, while also drawing attention to the inequity of infrastructure spend as between the BMW region and the east coast. According to Mr Frank Dawson, Director of Services to the Galway Community and Enterprise Programme, who is heading up the campaign for the re-introduction of West rail services "this is the last chance for the Western Rail Corridor."

Mr Dawson said there were twelve towns along the route of the corridor and in Galway alone there were nineteen settlements that would benefit from the existance of a working railway. He said it would be a disaster for this country if it was to turn away from rail transport at a time when all other countries in the EC were turning to rail to solve their transport problems.

He added that estimates of future business in rail clearly indicated that the cost of running the service could be met from fares and charges once the investment was made in the line.

He warned however that the signs were "ominous" with an excellent freight depot in Sligo that included a euro2.5m gantry lying idle because Iarnród Eireann had no commitment to freight. Cllr Michelle Mulherin, Chairperson of the Mayo Roads and Transportation committee said that if the West of Ireland was to be given the chance to develop the Western Rail Corridor "could not but be opened."

"There is nothing for it but to re-open this corridor as soon as possible. As a nation we have to reduce the growth in traffic on our roads and that means investment in rail.

"The government has spent up to euro9billion on infrastructure in Dublin including euro2 billion on the Luas and the Metro. Only a tiny fraction of that amount has been invested in the West.

"It is not acceptable that there should be such an underspend here," she stated.








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