Letter to the Editor - Oct
The Irish Examiner
Rail Investment will take us from one generation to
Your columnist, Ivan Yates (October 2) has recently taken
to deriding the National Development Plan as if it were a
monumental waste of public money to invest in the future of
He snidely suggests that half of the NDP consists of
"poor projects and white elephants".
Invariably topping the list for our born-again economic
guru is the Western Rail Corridor.
The idea that his fellow tax-payers in the west might
have the temerity to aspire to having a modern transport
system in the 21st century appears to jar on his nerves in a
way that must surely bring wry smiles to the faces of those
making the 30,000 car journeys per day on the N17 between
Tuam and Galway (NRA statistics). Then again, perhaps his
hectic media career prevents him from listening to AA
Roadwatch in the mornings.
"The problem," he says, "with euro184bn of capital
expenditure is that you have to pay it back."
With respect to Mr. Yates, the Government of Ireland is
not making a trip to the bookies with the taxpayers money
but is seeking to invest it in much needed infrastructural
development in every part of the country for the benefit of
those taxpayers and of future generations.
Every cent of that investment will repay this country for
generations to come through its progressive environmental
impact, its regional economic impact and its daily practical
utility to each and every citizen.
Writing in another national newspaper recently, no less a
commentator than Mr. Seán Quinn, Ireland's most
successful businessman, strongly emphasised the necessity to
develop rather than stagnate.
"At Government level, I would encourage continued
investment and channelling of resources into key
infrastructural improvements in roads, rail, communications
and energy. These areas are what will be important 20 years
from now and if necessary, I would be in favour of borrowing
to ensure their completion
We should never be afraid
to do what is right."
While there may be projects in the NDP that Mr. Yates
does not like, that does not excuse his lack of
On Today FM he recently lumped together the Western Rail
Corridor (WRC), an existing piece of national
infrastructure, with the proposed Metro North as if the two
bore any resemblance to each other.
The former, as outlined in Transport 21, and currently
under construction, will deliver 76 miles of national
primary railway infrastructure, including stations and
signalling for just over euro200m while the Metro is
variously estimated at somewhere between euro3bn and
This is not a case of comparing like with like, and it
smacks of lazy soundbites rather than informed economic
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
Re-opening the WRC will make a significant contribution
towards redressing this imbalance, 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
Perhaps it is not the National Development Plan but
rather the extraordinary phenomenon of Mr. Yates reinvention
of himself as an expert in everything from backing horses to
saving the economy that might more accurately be described
as "the most under-scrutinised, over-hyped vanity project"
of recent times.
Colmán Ó Raghallaigh
West on Track