Attempts To Sabotage
Western Rail Corridor Will Fail
Press Release 14th June
The West on Track community campaign has noted the recent
systematic series of attacks on the re-opening of the
Western Rail Corridor, being conducted through articles in
national and local newspapers and appearances by
Dublin-based economists on high-profile radio programmes and
This attempt to obstruct the re-opening of an existing
piece of invaluable national infrastructure is being set
against the background of the recent downturn in Government
As part of Transport 21 the section of the Western Rail
Corridor from Ennis to Claremorris is currently being
rebuilt with the first phase, linking Galway and Limerick,
the 3rd and 4th largest cities of the state, scheduled to
become operational in April of next year. The cost which
includes upgrades to the existing InterCity railway between
Athenry and Galway City is euro106m. The shorter sections to
Tuam and Claremorris will then be completed as outlined in
the programme for Government at a similar cost, far from the
euro350m figure quoted by "experts" from Dublin.
Sustainability is now a key element of transport planning
in Ireland with the Department of Transport anxious to
progress public transport projects in line with current
environmental thinking on waste and fuel reduction.
A spokesman for West on Track commented:
"EU policy now recognises that rail is the most
sustainable form of public transport. At a time of economic
downturn, the government is to be commended for learning
from the mistakes of the past. A policy of
prioritising investment in public
transport infrastucture is a prudent and
responsible course of action to take."
"The Western Rail Corridor is the ONLY major public
transport project in the west of Ireland and represents less
than 0.5% of the expenditure planned under Transport 21. By
contrast there are 14 major projects in the greater Dublin
area. None of these is coming under sustained attack, nor
should they. Ireland needs all the public transport
infrastructure it can get."
"It is nevertheless somewhat amusing to see the Dublin
economist who led the campaign against the Luas now being
wheeled out to attack the only significant public transport
project given to the West of Ireland with a series of wildly
inaccurate statements and generalisations, while at the same
time a growing oil crisis points to the urgent necessity of
developing just such public transport alternatives."
"The arrogance of such people is highlighted by remarks
about throwing euro350 million to the people of the West and
letting them argue about how they should use it, or forcing
people in the West to make a choice between having a proper
road from Dublin or the Western Rail Corridor," said the
spokesman. "Are these people unaware that in this region,
far more people travel daily on a north south axis than
east-west. The West requires both road and rail
infrastructure. What is unreasonable about that?"
"We believe the Government is to be commended for taking
a NATIONAL view of the development of infrastructure and
looking to the future in terms of planning for the WHOLE
country. We are absolutely confident that the Government
will proceed with the project which is now well ahead of
schedule, that it will prove all the cynics wrong and that
these insidious attempts to sabotage it will fail."
"It is generally accepted that the Western region has
lagged behind in terms of infrastructural investment. For
years now, the IDA, Ireland West Tourism and many others
have been pointing out that a lack of basic infrastructure
is severely hampering the development of the whole western
Region. Re-opening the WRC will make a significant
contribution towards redressing this imbalance."
"In terms of connectivity, linking Sligo and Galway by
rail to Limerick and Cork makes perfect sense, especially
since the basic infrastructure is already in place and the
property already in state ownership. In the light of rising
oil prices and motoring costs, it also seems extraordinary
that anyone could doubt that the linking of Galway and
Limerick, the 3rd and 4th largest cities of the state by
rail would not deliver value for money. It is, after all,
the busiest bus route in the state."
"As far as subsidies are concerned, no one would sensibly
suggest that the Dart, though heavily subsidised, is a waste
of money. Rather it is an essential piece of national
infrastructure. It is a fact that all modes of transport
require subsidy. What parameters are used to measure the
value for money delivered by roads?"
"And as for the cost of the project as a whole, it should
be remembered that the entire route of the Western Rail
Corridor is in public ownership and that the construction of
one mile of railway is significantly less expensive than
that of one mile of road."
"Western Rail Corridor campaigners were accused of
imagining the demand for services and their projections for
freight traffic were scoffed at by commentators from the
east coast. When we proved that demand by securing 18 trains
a week which are obliged to travel, on an interim basis,
through the congested Greater Dublin Area en route to
Waterford Port, the cynics ignored that achievement.
Currently, Dublin cannot produce one freight train per week.
Our success at transferring 16,000 truck movements from
roads onto rail, representing 3 million displaced truck
miles per annum, between Mayo and Waterford is a fact that
sustains our projections and confounds the sceptics. These
freight trains receive no subsidy, unlike the DART, LUAS and
Dublin Port Tunnel. These freight trains will be transferred
to the Western Rail Corridor when complete to compliment
"In Transport 21 the Government of Ireland has chosen to
develop rail transport in a way not seen since before the
foundation of the state. The entire Western Rail Corridor
project comprises a tiny fraction of that whole plan. Why
then is it being singled out for attack? Balanced regional
development and the implementation of the National Spatial
strategy are the cornerstones of Government policy and the
logical basis for the re-opening of the Western Rail
Corridor. The phased re-opening of the WRC makes sense, not
just for the West, but for Ireland as a whole."