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Limerick to Sligo Line

Limerick Leader -20th May 2005

Jennifer O'Connor

LIMERICK rail commuters could soon be able to travel straight from Limerick to Sligo if plans for the Western Rail Corridor are finally given the green light.

Last Friday a meeting of all parties involved in the Western Rail Corridor was held in Castlebar where a report was handed to Minister for Transport Martin Cullen on the prospect of developing the line.

"The funding for the Western Rail Corridor will be part of the capital transport envelope which is to be announced over the coming weeks. The Taoiseach said that the entire project will be in it but the report defines the order in which it might be introduced," said Colmán Ó Raghallaigh, a spokesperson for West on Track. The group have been lobbying the Government for the development of the line to capture the "tremendous potential" such infrastructure in the West would have.

"Take the Limerick to Ennis line - in the first year 130,000 people travelled on it. The same thing will happen with the Western Rail Corridor. Galway is the third largest city and Limerick is almost as big. The third and forth largest cities should be linked by rail," he said. He said that tourism is dependant on adequate public transport facilities as up to 60 per cent of tourists who come through Shannon Airport rely on it to tour the country.

"We are not talking about building a ladder to the moon. We are talking about taking track which has been lying there unused, and using it," Mr Ó Raghallaigh said.

The 185 kilometre railway line has been closed since 1976. It is estimated that the bill for the entire stretch would come in the region of euro365 million. In 2003, the Limerick/ Ennis rail line was opened and an estimated 130,000 commuters travelling on the line in the first 12 months of operation. Some 80,000 of these continued to Dublin on the Limerick/ Dublin service.

Mr Ó Raghallaigh said that this example showed that through the Western Rail Corridor that the national railway grid could be used to its maximum potential. "Take the question of freight. There are huge trucks using the roads causing traffic problems and ruining roads when most of the produce could be sent on the train," he added.

He concluded that the Western Rail Corridor would have a huge impact the balance regional development in the West and would be a "stunning success" when it finally reaches a conclusion.








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