Irish Rail cautiously
positive on Western Rail Corridor
Press Release - 4th June
Iarnrod Eireann tonight vowed to run trains on the
defunct Western Rail Corridor in the West for the first time
in 30 years if the Government gave the project the green
light. An expert group recommended last month that most of
the 114-mile route from Ennis to Sligo would be viable and
should reopen. It said the revamped line would cost euro365m
but that a final stretch of line to Sligo would not likely
be viable in the near future.
But Iarnrod Eireann told the Oireachtas Transport
Committee that if the Transport Minister decided the disused
link was viable, then the State company will come on
Acting chief executive Dick Fearn said: "Anything is
viable given a subsidy but there are different levels of
Mr Fearn, who has 32 years of experience in the UK rail
industry, said he could not give an comprehensive answer
until a clear audit was made of track upgrade and rolling
"If the Government come along and say to us there is a
social and economic case for extending the network and
linking the West, as professional railway people we would
have to respond to that."
He said the Government will have to decide the level of
operation of the Corridor and how big a State subsidy it
Galway TD Paul Connaghton said the revamp of the Western
Rail Corridor was vital for the future prosperity of the
West of Ireland .
Green Party leader Trevor Sargent called for the Corridor
to be prioritised as a national infrastructure issue. "We're
talking about an overall economic objective here as well as
a transport link," he said. But
Mr Fearn said Iarnrod Eireann's first priority was to run
the existing network as efficiently and safely as possible.
"This is not part of our current duty of care and operation
to the railway network. It would be an addition to our
network if it was brought back into service."
A Strategic Rail Review in 2003 concluded there wasn't a
clear economic case for the revival of the Corridor which
closed in 1974. But former Transport Minister Seamus Brennan
set up a working group on the link after strong lobbying
campaign by the West on Track group.