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Students call for Western Rail Corridor to re-open

Western People - Wednesday 6th September 2006

TRANSPORT has been identified as one of the crucial concerns for students living in County Mayo, as local projects such as the opening of the Western Rail Corridor, pledged by the Government as part of the Transport 21 policy document in November 2005, have yet to get off the ground.

This is according to Kieran O'Malley, Western Area Officer for the Union of Students in Ireland.

Speaking to the Western People, Kieran pointed out the deficit between planning and action as regards local transport: "Frazzled nerves, missed appointments and long delays are all experiences of local rail and bus travel that many of us have sadly come to expect. The poor state of public transport in Mayo has adverse implications for the economy, environment and quality of life. But for local students, the lack of decent public transport links brings a special set of problems. A number of projects under Transport 21 have yet to see the light of day and as USI Western Area Officer it's my job to lobby TDs to ensure these projects are recognised as urgent."

The student officer cites the Western Rail Corridor as one of the landmark projects under development.

"Once built, the Western Rail Corridor promises to unlock a new vista of opportunity for young adults living in communities like Ballina, Castlebar and Westport. Until that time, young people in these towns will continue to find it difficult to compete for skilled jobs with their counterparts from urban centres.

The long-term economic vitality of Mayo is compromised so long as progress on the Western Rail Corridor continues to be delayed. That's why I and my colleagues at USI are urgently lobbying deputies to green-light an immediate start to construction".

While the Western Rail Corridor is one missing part of the transport jigsaw puzzle, according to Kieran, the planned Ennis to Claremorris rail link is another.

"It seems hard to believe that local people have been forced to wait two decades for this already.

With political will, I don't doubt that the Ennis to Claremorris track could be built within two years from now. The rail corridor is owned by the State and therefore no expensive land acquisitions would be necessary. For the same reason, the planning process ought to be short"








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