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Western rail project to be announced soon

Sunday Business Post Aug 6th 2006


By Niamh Connolly

A Western Rail Corridor linking major population centres on the western seaboard is expected to be officially announced shortly, The Sunday Business Post has learned. The cabinet approved the Western Rail Corridor in principal at a meeting two weeks ago and a government announcement on the project is expected either later this month or in early September.

There is broad agreement among the government parties on the phased construction of a rail corridor ultimately linking Ennis in Co Clare to Collooney in Co Sligo.

The re-opening of the Western Rail Corridor, which is part of the government's Transport 21 commitment, is expected to form a key role in Fianna Fail's general election platform over the coming months. An expert working group headed by Jurys Doyle chief executive Pat McCann for transport minister Martin Cullen found a strong case for the restoration of the line which was closed 30 years ago.

The section from Ennis to Claremorris in Co Mayo will cost euro168 million.The final section from Claremorris to Collooney in Co Sligo would cost euro197million and would complete a circular rail system nationally by connecting the five largest cities outside Dublin - Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Sligo - by rail.

The corridor is owned by the state, so no costly land acquisition or lengthy planning process is required. A rail link from Limerick to Ennis, which opened in 2004, surpassed passenger projections. Supporters of the plan say the project will open up 14 additional smaller and medium-sized towns and their rural hinterlands to a north-south transport corridor.

According to population projections, the west of the country will be the second fastest growing region in terms of population growth up to 2021, with an increase of 35 per cent being projected.








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