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Come on Willie, fund the WRC!

Galway Independent - Letters - 17th August 2005

Dear editor,

Re: New national plan proposed for 2007.

It is, perhaps, just another brick in a wall of frequent public pronouncements being made by this oh-so-tired government, leading up to the next general election - that has Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea of all people, announcing the birth of the next new seven-year National Development Plan - which is to come into force when the existing one runs out at the end of next year.

I would hope that I am not alone in being sceptical about the efficaciousness of national development plans‚ given the ineffective progress of the existing one - particularly where the west of Ireland is concerned.

The Western Bishops recently commented on the NDP's euro2 billion "under spend" in the West over the past five years. While Dublin and the east coast has by comparison benefited excessively. Taking the example of spending on public transport, the West has been practically ignored, with Galway City Council recently providing just half a bus lane, while bus and rail infrastructure, generally, is now in a worse state than ever before.

While the growth in traffic on our roads has been one of the more noticeable elements of our recent economic growth, the lack of an extensive public transport system that works and the run-down of rail-freight carrying capacity has resulted in an enormous growth in car ownership and HGV usage, with Galway city now more frequently clogging up during peak traffic periods.

The failure of this government to have confidence in the revitalisation of the Western Rail Corridor is just another example of the Government's lack of vision. The western university cities of Galway, Limerick and Cork, which are all growth centres, need to be visibly connected by means of investment in twin-track commuter rail services (most of the existing track this side of Athlone is single line). The Government needs to stop just pouring more money into roads, which encourage sprawled out housing. The returns in population growth, and in sustainable economic and social growth, if commuter rail networks in the West were to be supported, would be immeasurable.

Come on Willie, announce funding for the development of the Western Rail Corridor, the rewards for you and Fianna Fail's developer pals might be great indeed!

Derrick Hambleton,








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