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Western rail route: hopes rise for positive decision

Sligo Champion - 21st September 2005

The West on Track Community campaign has responded to growing speculation and rumours about the Government's intentions regarding the re-opening of the Western Rail Corridor.

A West on Track spokesman predicted that the Government will shortly make a positive announcement regarding the re-opening of the Western Rail Corridor and that it will form part of the National Transport Plan which is expected to be published next month.

The spokesman said it was "highly unlikely" that the project would only proceed from Ennis to Athenry or to Tuam, while long-fingering Mayo in the short term and postponing Sligo indefinitely.

"While we accept that there are many rumours currently circulating regarding a watered down re-opening of the Western Rail Corridor, we do not, for one moment, believe that the Government is seriously contemplating such a short-sighted or piecemeal approach. On the contrary we are firmly of the view that the Government, and indeed the Taoiseach himself, have taken on board the strong case made to them by the community, statutory bodies and public representatives for the complete re-opening of this vital piece of national infrastructure and has reached a positive conclusion regarding the future of the WRC."

"We remain strongly of the view that while the project is likely to proceed in two phases, that the real value of the WRC can only become apparent when it is fully re-opened from Limerick to Sligo in line with the principles of the National Spatial Strategy.

"We expect that the first phase of the project will involve the re-opening of the Claremorris-Ennis section and the clearance and fencing of the Claremorris-Collooney section. The second phase would then see the re-opening of the northern section, linking Sligo and Knock Airport by rail with the rest of the region. This approach would be in line with the overall recommendations of the McCann Report published in May."

"Now is the time to plan for the future transport needs of the whole West region. We must try to avoid replicating the mistakes that have bedevilled other areas of the country where infrastructural development too often consists of playing catch-up with people's actual transport needs.

The reopened WRC will go a long way towards ensuring that the West becomes an attractive region in which to live and work while at the same time contributing to fuel savings, road safety and environmental benefits. No one needs reminding of the way oil prices have been heading in recent times.

The message is clear. Quality public transport must be prioritised in every part of Ireland," he added.








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