McCarthy Not Credible on the Western Rail Corridor
Press Release July 20th 2009
The West on Track Community Campaign has issued the following response to the recent report by Mr. Colm McCarthy.
It is disappointing but not surprising that Mr. McCarthy chose to go outside of his remit in order to recommend that the Western Rail Corridor should not proceed. In the summer of 2008 he made his now infamous attack on the project on the Marian Finnucane Show when he stated that the people in the West should be thrown a few hundred million and be let squabble among themselves as to whether they want their “toy railway” or a proper road from Dublin. How can such a person be considered a neutral or credible commentator on anything west of the Shannon? Out of the euro14,000 million public transport programme, the only project singled out by Mr. McCarthy is the single project located west of the Shannon. (With the exception of the Cork commuter line, all of the other 17 public transport projects are for the greater Dublin area.)
Mr. McCarthy’s longstanding antipathy towards rail transport is best illustrated by the fact that he conducted a similar media campaign against the opening of the Luas in Dublin which he predicted would fail miserably and carry only 100,000 passengers. In its first year the Luas exceeded that figure by a factor of more than 10, going on to become one of the most successful public transport projects ever delivered in this country.
The first phase of the Western Rail Corridor will open this September. To date the project continues to represent the best value for money, mile for mile, in the whole Transport 21 envelope. euro100 million remains to be invested in re-opening the next phases of Western Rail Corridor under Transport 21 to Tuam and Claremorris, delivering a total of over 70 miles of national primary infrastructure but representing an entire spend of less than 1% of the entire Public Transport Programme. We therefore remain absolutely confident that the Government will continue to develop the Western Rail Corridor in line with its stated objectives of balanced regional development and sustainability, and that the project will prove to be a outstanding success.
The Western Rail Corridor has already created 400 jobs in the construction phase and will deliver many thousands of jobs in private sector companies, once operational. This is exactly the type of public transport, which must be prioritized during times of economy downturn, linking as it does the gateway cities of Limerick and Galway, with the Hub towns of Tuam, Ballina and Castlebar, together with Claremorris and Westport.
Mr McCarthy's other bizarre suggestion of axing the railway from Manulla to Ballina ignores the fact that this section of line forms part of the largest container rail freight route in Ireland, used heavily by export manufacturing companies, carrying thousands of containers annually for export via Waterford port.