Rail Corridor work should
start immediately - MacGréil
The Mayo News - Wednesday
9 November 2005
HAVING had time to reflect on the Government's
multi-million euro plans for the re-opening of the Western
Rail Corridor, the man most identified with the campaign to
have this piece of transport infrastructure put in place
said the time scale for its delivery was far too long.
Sociologist, Fr Micheál MacGréil, Secretary
of the Western Inter-county Rail Committee which has been in
existence for the past 26 years, told The Mayo News at the
weekend that the 2014 delivery date was not acceptable.
"It can and must be done much earlier than that and now
that the Government has approved the project, the work of my
committee and the West on Track Committee must be to ensure
that it is delivered in the shortest possible time and
certainly long before 2014.
"We haven't gone away, you know, and our campaign from
hereon will put the focus on implementation," he said. Fr
MacGréil said he would expect every public
representative along the western seaboard, national and
local and irrespective of party affiliation, to press the
Government for an early start on the rail corridor.
The doughty campaigner said he believed most of the work
on the rail corridor from Ennis to Claremorris could be done
inside a two-year period. His information was that the
people who carry out such work were now experiencing a quiet
period and would welcome the rail corridor brief, whereas in
three years time they would be extremely busy again with
other rail projects in and around Dublin.
"The usual obstacles to getting a project under way do
not apply here. In the main planning permission is not
required, wayleaves do not have to be established and the
compulsory acquisition of land for the track does not apply
as the old track is already in place for virtually all of
the route. The time to get the work started is NOW."
Fr MacGréil said his committee and West on Track
had 'total confidence' in the expertise of Iarnród
Eireann to lay a first-class track along the corridor up to
the highest international standards.
"It is our conviction that up to 700,000 passenger
journeys will be made on the rail corridor every year, in
addition to substantial tonnage of freight. All of the 18
urban communities along the line will benefit and new
housing, employment and services will be built and generated
in the catchment area of the corridor. Tourism will also be
a huge beneficiary."
His colleague on the West on Track committee, Colman
Ó Raghallaigh, was equally strong in his assertion
that the time scale must be altered, describing the one
currently projected as 'flawed'. "
While we appreciate it is a major development and is now
Government policy, no one can understand why it may take up
to nine years. The demand is there in the community to start
in Claremorris the same time as they start in Ennis and,
when this happens, then people will believe the promise. Our
campaign was born of need, not hankering after the past or
looking for steam trains. We invite all those who have an
influence in these matters to look again and see how it can
"I commend the Government for its decision to open the
Western Corridor and especially Minister Ó
Cuív, who has given us enormous help at all stages
through the campaign. However, a more realistic timetable
for delivery should be put in place."
The Claremorris man also expressed concern that while
there is a commitment to fence and clear the railway north
of Claremorris, there is no mention in the ten-year plan of
renewing services on this line. Given the phenomenal growth
of Knock Airport and Sligo, our view is that this would
certainly need to be re-examined as soon as the southern
section is re-opened. Now is the time to undertake this
work, the longer it is left, the more it will cost.
I believe what we have here is a flawed timescale in
relation to the re-opening of the line south of Claremorris.
However, I am confident the Government will have another
look at it given the welcome that the news has received in
the West, and that common sense will prevail."