Call for Western Rail Extension
The Irish Times March 20th 2010
by Lorna Siggins Western Correspondent
THE WESTERN Development Commission, four bishops, NUI Galway and a number of organisations, local authorities and councillors have issued a joint call for a continued extension of the western rail corridor.
The statement was issued just 10 days before the Limerick-Galway rail link reopens for the first time in more than 30 years.
Iarnród Éireann services on the €106.5 million first phase of the corridor will run between the two west coast cities from March 30th, providing five services each way from Monday to Saturday and four on Sunday.
In the joint statement, the groups say they welcome the completion of the first phase and pay tribute to the Government and Iarnród Éireann.
They say it is “imperative” that the next phase from Tuam to Claremorris, Co Mayo, should “proceed without delay” to make the most of the rail corridor’s potential.
“The railway has recently been surveyed to Tuam and Claremorris. As costings are finalised, it has become clear that the cost of construction is now much less than the previously estimated figure of €2 million per mile,” they say.
“The project is also sustaining hundreds of highly skilled jobs and supporting balanced regional development. In the light of this we urge the Government to continue the good work by commencing the next phase in the current year.”
Signatories to the statement, including the West on Track campaign which has lobbied for years to reopen the rail link from Limerick to Sligo, also include the Border, Midlands and Western (BMW) Regional Assembly; the Western Development Commission; the West Regional Authority; the Border Regional Authority; Atlantic Way; and NUI Galway.
The statement is supported by Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary; the Bishop of Clonfert, Dr John Kirby; the Bishop of Galway, Dr Martin Drennan, and the Bishop of Killaloe, Dr William Walsh; Ireland West International Airport chief executive Liam Scollan, and county development and county enterprise boards for Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare and Leitrim.
It is also supported by Mayo Vocational Education Committee chief executive Dr Katie Sweeney and chambers of commerce for Galway, Castlebar, Ballina, Claremorrris, Westport and Ballyhaunis in Co Mayo; Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim; Tubbercurry, Co Sligo, and Sligo town, and a number of councillors chairing local authorities in the region.