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Government to agree two-phase rail approach

Mayo News - 10th August 2005

by Seán Staunton

Although no immediate announcements are planned by Government on the approval of the western rail corridor, The Mayo News has learned that it is likely to be given the go-ahead on a two-phase basis. While the Western Inter-County Railway Committee and the West on Track Committee would prefer approval for the entire project, they are unlikely to oppose the two-phase approach, once it becomes clear that the Government has accepted the recommendation of the McCann Report to put the project in place. They would see this as concrete proof of the Government's commitment to balanced regional development.

If the rail corridor from Collooney to Ennis is to be re-opened on a phased basis, both committees would want to see Claremorris to Ennis as the first phase and Collooney to Claremorris as the second phase.

Senator Michael Kitt said the campaign for the re-opening of the line had gone on for 26 years. Fr Micheal MacGréil was then and still is secretary to the committee which had received great support from the West on Track committee. "There is strong support in the west for the re-opening of this rail corridor," he said.

Minister of State for Transport, Mr Ivor Callely, said the concept of balanced regional development was integral to the national spatial strategy. The Government was fully committed to achieving such development in the west through record capital investment in all sectors, particularly the transport sector.

"Some of the more significant rail projects carried out in the west in recent times, or committed for the near future, clearly demonstrate that commitment. The rail infrastructure carried out under the rail safety programmed 2000-2004 have upgraded all key rail lines into the west and a sum in the region of 600 million was invested in this programme."

Minister Callely said he fully appreciated the points made by Senator Kitt and others, many of whom he had met on a number of occasions.

"They have certainly convinced me of the need to proceed with this project. In the contest of the multi-annual investment framework for transport, decisions will be made on the future of the western rail corridor. I hope to be in a position in a matter of weeks to return with favourable news on the project."

Mr Owen Hughes, President of Westport Chamber of Commerce, said approval for the western rail corridor would breathe new life in to the social, economic and tourism sectors of the region. It had the support of all western chambers of commerce and indeed 'all agencies and groups with an interest in western development'.








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