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Attempts To Sabotage Western Rail Corridor Will Fail

Press Release 14th June 2008 


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 chat shows.

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 finances.

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 passenger revenues". 

"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."








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