Anger over infrastructure
underspend in West
Article from Irish Times
website: Ireland.com October 2005
Public transport spending in the West is over euro200
million below the Government spending target, according to
figures obtained by a group campaigning for the reopening of
Western Rail Corridor (WRC).
Figures obtained by West on Track (WoT) and seen by
ireland.com show that by the end of June 2005, public
transport in the Border, Midlands and West (BMW) region was
euro247m rather than the euro477m target for spending by the
end of 2006.
There has been considerable pressure for the reopening of
at least part of the Western Rail Corridor (WRC) and
expressions of public support from the Taoiseach and the
Minister for Transport Martin Cullen.
A Department of Transport expert group reported in May of
this year found there was a "strong case" for the reopening
of the WRC from Ennis, Co Clare to Claremorris, Co Mayo
initially, with the potential to restore the remainder of
the line to Sligo at a future date.
The failure to reopen at least part of the line has been
a source annoyance in the West for some time as it is
regarded as a ready-to-go project because the line already
exists and is owned by the State.
But a spokesman for WoT, Colman O'Raghallaigh, told
ireland.com that there was concern that the project would
not go ahead as originally envisaged. "We are hearing vibes
from various quarters that this railway will come to Athenry
[Co Galway] but with only a vague promise to bring
it to Claremorris [Co Mayo]," Mr O Raghallaigh
If the line were reinstituted it would link the West with
Galway, Limerick, Cork and Waterford - a goal of the
National Spatial Strategy.
Mr O'Raghallaigh said there was considerable demand for
the line from people travelling to work and college in
Galway and Limerick and said around 30,000 vehicles travel
through the village of Claregalway to Galway city every
Many projects under the National Development Plan
originally scheduled to cover 2001 - 2006 will not be
completed until the end of the decade but the euro230
million underspend detailed in a report by Economic and
Social Infrastructure Operational Programme (ESIOP), showed
transport spending in the East and South had achieved 98 per
cent of its target.
"With less than a year and a quarter of the National
Development Plan left to run, the ESIOP Monitoring Committee
must take immediate steps to rectify the situation by
recommending the allocation of funding for the entire
Western Rail Corridor if they are to have any credibility in
the BMW Region.
"There are no other major infrastructure projects on the
menu for the West. In a democracy, we must have parity of
esteem for the regions.
"We have engaged very positively with the Government from
the beginning but what we are saying is born out frustration
and mystification," he said.
The costs of reinstating the rail line from Ennis to
Claremorris would be euro160 million, offering "tremendous
value for money", he added.
The Minster for transport is due to see the ESIOP report
on Friday and a draft framework for transport investment is
due before Cabinet shortly.
© 2005 ireland.com