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West on Track welcomes Government announcement of Re-Opening of Western Rail Corridor

Press Release from West-on-Track Community Campaign - 1st November 2005

The West on Track Community Campaign welcomes the announcement by the Minister for Transport, Mr. Martin Cullen today, that the Western Rail Corridor is to be re-opened and that provision for it has been made in the 10-Year Transport Plan.

This is a far-sighted and historic decision and the Government are to be commended for their vision in bringing forward what will be the largest re-opening of railway infrastructure in the history of the state. The Government's decision is a vote of confidence in the future of the West of Ireland, whose public transport budget as part of the National Development Plan, had fallen seriously behind. Today's announcement will correct this underspend if rebuilding work commences without delay.

The WRC project is completely in line with the National Spatial Strategy, linking the gateways of Limerick, Galway and Sligo and the hubs of Ennis, Tuam and Castlebar-Ballina.

However, many people in the West are puzzled by the putative 9-year timeframe put forward for achieving the Ennis-Claremorris section. We believe that in order for this project to have the maximum impact across the entire region, a clear and more realistic timetable for delivery is essential, to provide a framework for planning authorities and private investors to prepare their schedules of investment.

We look forward to engaging positively with the Government, the Department of Transport and Iarnród Éireann to explore how best this schedule may be improved and expedited and what the nature of the delay may be. It is clearly the case that the Western Rail Corridor is one of the few projects listed today where work could commence immediately, unhindered by planning or other requirements and given the proven relaying capacity of Iarnród Éireann we are confident that the project can still be delivered significantly sooner than mooted.

We also welcome the confirmation by Mr. Éamon Ó Cuív, Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, that the section from Claremorris to Collooney will be cleared and fenced as part of the first phase. The Minister has indicated to West on Track representatives that he expects that clearing and fencing work will proceed early in the coming year.

West on Track acknowledges the commitment of Minister Éamon Ó Cuív, to this project over a long period of time. Furthermore we thank An Taoiseach, Minister Cullen and his predecessor Mr. Brennan. We acknowledge also the widespread and genuine support afforded to us by political representatives at all levels and from all parties, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, individual TDs, Senators and Councillors and our colleagues in the Western Inter-County Railway Committee.

We wish to record our particular gratitude and admiration for our patron Fr. Mícheál MacGréil, who has campaigned on this issue for over a quarter of a century and whose vision has been a beacon of hope to us all. Finally, we pay tribute to the local & regional authorities, the City and County Development Boards, the BMW Assembly, the Western Development Commission and the many communities and individuals from Sligo to Limerick, and indeed from all parts of Ireland, who have taken an active part in the West on Track campaign.

This campaign is not over. The speedy delivery of the entire Western Rail Corridor remains our immediate and determined priority.








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