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Chamber leads campaign for rail corridor to Sligo

Sligo Champion - Wednesday 10th May 2006


By Michael Moran

THE Western Rail Corridor can be delivered all the way to Sligo by 2011 - if the local community steps up the campaign to secure it, supporters of the project have claimed.

"This is a realistic timeframe. It can certainly be achieved, but the people of Sligo must take the fight to themselves and run with it," Mr. Colman O'Raghallaigh of the West=on=Track group has said.

Mr. O'Raghallaigh was speaking at a public information and presentation meeting on the W.R.C. on Monday night, organised in conjunction with Sligo Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Chamber has now pledged to establish a working group from all areas of the community, including the business, commercial, industrial and tourism sectors and other interested parties to achieve the objective of having the Western Rail Corridor operating between Limerick and Sligo in five years.

With speculation increasing that the Ennis to Claremorris section will be "advanced dramatically" by 2009, and not 2014 as originally envisaged, the expectation of West=on=Track is that the Claremorris to Sligo link could then start immediately.

No timeframe for this section was outlined in the Government's 'Transport 21' initiative, while Sligo-born, Pat McCann, the Chief Executive of the Jurys Doyle Hotel Group, in his 2005 report on the W.R.C. stated that the main case for re-opening the Claremorris to Collooney section was on the grounds of balanced regional development.

He recommended that it be reconsidered in 2008 as the development of Sligo as a Gateway city continues.

The total capital cost of the W.R.C. is euro366 million, with the section from Claremorris to Colloney-a distance of 46.25 miles-estimated to cost euro197.4m, or an average of euro4.3m per mile.

"We believe this represents the best value for money and will provide some of the best infrastructure in the country. After all, the Drogheda by-pass cost euro250m to build.

"We believe the demand is there for the W.R.C. from Sligo to Limerick and Irish Rail are also very supportive of this.

"However, if Sligo wants this project delivered, all interested parties must say 'sooner, rather than later'," Mr. O'Raghallaigh maintained.

Under the banner 'Sligo says Yes', West=on=Track are demanding a commitment to re-open the entire corridor from Sligo to Limerick within a specific timeframe for both passenger and freight services, a commitment to specify the incremental phases against the specific timeframe and the establishment of a framework for local participation in overseeing the operation of services on the corridor.

"We have brought this campaign so far, it is now up to the people of Sligo to take it the final step and ensure that the W.R.C. becomes reality from here to Limerick," said Mr. O'Raghallaigh.

"We believe that the city of Sligo, identified in the National Spatial Strategy as a Gateway, requires the W.R.C. to come fully into its own under that National Spatial Strategy," he added.

The President of Sligo Chamber of Commerce, Ann Clinton, added her support for the campaign.

"We must bring some sort of group together to progress this and get a timeframe for Sligo. It is felt the rail link to Claremorris will be delivered in the short rather than the long term and we should be aiming to get started after that," she said.








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