Call To Save Western Rail
Link By Extending Across Border
Irish Times 18th June
By LORNA SIGGINS, Western
A FORMER Green Party mayor has called on the Government
to draw on cross-Border funding to extend the western rail
corridor to Derry.
Cllr Niall Ó Brolcháin, former Green Party
mayor of Galway, said that this would make the project "more
viable", as it would draw on large populations in
Letterkenny, Co Donegal, and Derry, with direct links to
"A combination of rail freight services and cross-Border
co-operation could add enormously to the potential of a
project that may otherwise struggle in the current economic
climate," Cllr Ó Brolcháin has said.
"I believe that any lack of action on public transport
infrastructure now could be viewed as a serious missed
opportunity in years to come," he said.
Cllr Ó Brolcháin, who ran as a candidate in
Galway West in the last general election, also expressed
disappointment at comments attributed last week to Fianna
Fáil TD Frank Fahey that "appeared to pour cold
water" on the project.
Mr Fahey, who is chair of the Oireachtas committee on
transport, said that the Government had to be realistic
about what money would be available for the next phases of
Work began late last year on the initial euro106 million
phase of reopening the corridor on a section between Ennis,
Co Clare and Athenry, Co Galway. Mr Fahey told The Irish
Times yesterday that all capital projects were under review
by the Department of Finance, and he would be "fighting to
maintain the projects we have in the west".
A proposed outer bypass road route, which is being
considered by An Bord Pleanála, was also "vitally
important", Mr Fahey said.
Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey says that the
reopening of the western rail corridor remains a "top
priority" for Government. Phases already approved would
extend the rail network to Claremorris, Co Mayo.
"Even in more difficult economic conditions, expenditure
on transport infrastructure will remain a key plank of this
Government's strategy to grow our economy into the future,"
a spokeswoman for Mr Dempsey said.
Minister for Rural Affairs Éamon Ó
Cuív said that he was "very pleased with progress to
date" on the project, which was part of Transport 21 and
enjoyed full Cabinet support.
The "West on Track" community campaign said that it
believed a "recent systematic series of attacks" was an
"attempt to obstruct the reopening of an existing piece of
invaluable national infrastructure", and was "being set
against the background of the recent downturn in Government
"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 infrastructure is a prudent
and responsible course of action to take," the campaign said
in a statement.
The rail corridor was the "only major public transport
project in the west of Ireland", the campaign said.
"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," the group said.