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Milltown may be vital link in rail line

Tuam Herald - 30th June 2005

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 Road side.

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 arrived.

"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 Galway‚s 130,000 tonnes of timber from the system where it has to be transported by road to Waterford," said the source.

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








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