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Taoiseach's move on West Rail welcomed

Sligo Champion - 9th March 2005

by Michael Moran

THE commitment by An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, that financial provision has been made by the Government for the re-opening of the Western Rail Corridor, has been warmly welcomed in the region.

Mr. Ahern stated in the Dail that he was supportive of the W.R.C. and that the finances for it are already with the Department, adding that it would be part of a ten-year rail plan.

"This is very significant for the entire West of Ireland. The Taoiseach's announcement represents a clear expression by the Government of its intent to deliver on the vision outlined in the National Spatial Strategy," said a spokesman for the West=On=Track group this morning.

"The Western Rail Corridor will join together all the cities of the West and South from Sligo to Cork and Waterford and genuinely create the conditions for balanced regional development," he added.


The W.R.C. spokesperson was responding to remarks made by Mr. Ahern during Taoiseach's question time, in response to questions from Enda Kenny and Pat Rabbitte.

"I am supportive of the Western Rail Corridor, but where it starts and finishes depends on the studies that are being undertaken," the Taoiseach told the Dail. It would make sense to use the existing rail line, but they would have to await the completion of studies in order to ascertain the viability of the various issues.

When he met representatives of the groups involved, they told him that they knew thee were issues concerning the viability of all the lines, Mr. Ahern stated.

He referred to the forthcoming report of the group established to examine the viability of the W.R.C. and said he was advised this was due in April.

"We have been supportive of this all the way through. The report is to identify how it can best be achieved. There will probably be arguments about the viability of where the W.R.C. starts and ends.

"I have heard the arguments about whether Sligo is the best location, but I am not an expert on such matters.

"As much as we can, it makes sense to support and engage in what is viable, based on expert advice. The finances for it are already with the Department and, from presentations we have received, I know it will be part of the ten year rail plan. Therefore, the provision has already been made for it," the Taoiseach continued.

The W.R.C. spokesman, meanwhile, said that as well as serving the transport and commercial needs of the people of the entire region, the re-opening of the corridor would represent an essential front loading of infrastructure leading to the accelerated economic development of the entire west and mid-west region.


"We compliment the Taoiseach and his Ministers for their positive response to the well documented needs of this region," he added.

The re-opening of the W.R.C. must be seen as a single regional development project, delivering much-needed infrastructure through the whole region.

"AS the Taoiseach noted in his Dail statement, we now await the report of the expert working group under the Chairmanship of Mr. Pat McCann, which, we are confident, will provide a dynamic blueprint for the re-opening of this valuable piece of Ireland's national infrastructure," the W.R.C. spokesman concluded.

Elsewhere, Sean O'Neachtain, M.E.P. for the constituency of North and West, also welcomed the comments of the Taoiseach.

"I have lobbied strongly for the re-opening of the W.R.C. because it is a vital economic component in support of the future economic development of the West of Ireland.

"The project fully fits in with the commitment of the Government to promote balanced regional development and to implement the National Spatial Strategy," he said.








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