Milltown may be vital link
in rail line
Tuam Herald - 30th June
by Tom Gilmore
Two Co. Galway villages, Milltown and Ardrahan, could be
vital cogs in the reopening of the Western Rail Corridor
(WRC) from Claremorris to Ennis if freight traffic is to
also make passenger services viable.
According to a high-placed source involved in the
negotiations to re-open the WRC, the use of the old railway
stations in Milltown and Ardrahan for loading freight,
especially timber, may be essential if passenger services
are also to be restored as far north as Claremorris.
The Herald has learned that a deal may be only weeks away
to move billions of euro worth of industrial freight per
year from major multi-national industries in Mayo via rail
to Waterford Port. But until the Western Rail Link is opened
this freight will still have to be routed through the
greater Dublin area.
Apart from the current 100,000 tonnes of timber going
from North Mayo to Waterford a further 130,000 tonnes of
timber from Galway could be put on the rail line if loading
facilities were provided at Milltown and Ardrahan.
Tuam railway station could also have some timber loading
facilities on the football stadium side while a Park and
Ride facility may be put in place on the Purcell-Stockwell
But it is thought that only a small amount of timber
would be transported from Tuam as loading it in Milltown
would create fewer traffic problems. "Coillte currently load
the timber and wood pulp products into the rail carriages so
all Iarnrod Eireann would need do is provide the loading
bays at Milltown and Ardrahan," said the source.
At present the 100,000 tonnes of timber goes by rail from
North Mayo via the greater Dublin area. A more direct and
viable route would be through the WRC.
The McCann Report on the viability of a reopened rail
corridor going from Mayo to Ennis is currently on the desk
of the Minister for Transport. The report has stated that
the Galway to Ennis section could opened first and this may
be followed by the re-opening of the Tuam to Athenry line.
But for the passenger service to go the extra 15 miles to
Claremorris freight may be vital.
Both Milltown and Ardrahan stations are adjacent to
national primary routes. Iarnrod Eireann own substantial
property at both locations and the timber loaded from
lorries to rail carriages at these stations would go
straight to the ships in Waterford with no unloading on to
lorries down there.
This would answer fears expressed by Transport Minister
Martin Cullen that transporting freight by rail was less
viable if lorries had to be reloaded when the goods
"Timber going straight to the ships from Milltown or
Ardrahan eliminates unloading to lorries at Waterford Port.
Apart from taking the current 100,000 tonnes of timber from
Mayo annually the re-opened rail link would remove much of
Galways 130,000 tonnes of timber from the system where
it has to be transported by road to Waterford," said the
The deal to move goods from major multi-national
industries in Mayo via rail is currently being considered.
Even though the initial trains taking this freight will have
to be routed through the greater Dublin area to Waterford
Port the deal could be the catalyst for the reopening of the
rail link through Tuam and on to Claremorris.
This may mean that Milltown would become the vital
loading area for timber and timber pulp products and this
usage of the line for freight could make passenger services
financially viable on this stretch of the Western Rail
Corridor as well