Ahern support for euro360m
rail link to West
The Mayo News - 9th March
There has been a warm welcome throughout Mayo for the
Taoiseach's stated support for the development of the
Western Rail Corridor, 26 years after it was first
Mr Ahern told the Dáil that "as much as we can, it
makes sense to support and engage in what is viable, based
on expert advice".
And then, significantly, he added "The finances for it
are already with the Department (of Transport) and, from
representations we have received, I know it will be part of
the ten-year rail plan. Therefore, provision has already
been made for it".
The full restoration of the line, from Collooney to
Ennis, is expected to cost in the region of euro360 million
if proceeded with. If the Government decides to go ahead
with it, it may well happen in two phases.
Final Government approval will depend on a report
prepared by an expert group, set up by former Transport
Minister, Mr Séamus Brennan, to consider the
viability of the project.
The chairman of the group is Mr Pat McCann, CEO of the
Jurys Doyle Hotel Group and former manager of the Westport
Ryan Hotel, now the Westport Woods.
Although the group's report will not be presented to
current Minister for Transport, Mr Martin Cullen, until
April, there is cautious optimism among the promoters of the
project that it will recommend going ahead with it. The
report will examine the full rail-linking of twelve to
fifteen towns between Sligo and Ennis.
Fine Gael leader, Mayo TD, Enda Kenny, called on the
Taoiseach to support the opening of the line from Sligo
southwards and said engineers believed it could be completed
within two years.
Sociologist Fr Micheál MacGréil, SJ, who
has been a Western Rail Corridor campaigner for the past
twenty-six years as secretary of the Western Inter-county
Rail Committee, said the Taoiseach's statement represented a
red-letter day for the West of Ireland and Mayo in
"I am delighted with the Taoiseach's support and there's
no going back now. I want to pay tribute to the County
Councillors of the west region who never lost faith in the
project and, especially to the founding chairman of the
inter-county rail committee, former Mayo County Councillor,
Martin J O'Toole."
Mr Martin J O'Toole, said he was delighted to have
spearheaded a campaign that spanned a quarter of a century
and he particularly welcomed the Taoiseach's unequivocal
endorsement of the project, a view also expressed by the
current chairman of the inter-county rail committee,
Councillor Michael McGreal of Roscommon.
Claremorris-based Colman O'Raghallaigh of the West on
Track Committee said he gave 'an unqualified welcome' to the
Taoiseach's words of support for the project. While the
report of the expert group had yet to go to Government, he
remained hopeful that it would give a positive endorsement
to the project.
Mayo County Council Chairman, Cllr Eddie Staunton, said
everybody in Mayo would be thrilled if the green light was
given to the project.
"I am also very proud of the fact that my own party, led
by Mayo TD Enda Kenny, has supported the Western Rail
Corridor project from day one," he said.
Deputy Beverley Flynn said she was confident the project
would be given the green light at national level. The case
for the re-opening of the line was irrefutable.