West on Track welcomes Re-Opening of Phase 1 of Western Rail Corridor
Monday March 29th 2010
The West on Track community campaign warmly welcomes the re-opening today of the Limerick-Galway section of the Western Rail Corridor and urges the Government to proceed with the next phase of the project immediately. Today is truly a historic occasion, the largest reopening of a railway in the history of Ireland. That this has come about through the voluntary work of the people of this region, supported by our public representatives, our national Government (with the support of the opposition) and our national rail company makes this doubly an occasion of hope and celebration.
Since the West on Track campaign began there has been much ill-informed and disparaging comment from Dublin-based economic commentators and consultants. These people should be ashamed of themselves. The truth is that the Western Rail Corridor is being delivered for a tiny fraction of the cost of other road and rail projects at less than €2m a mile, making it the best value for money, mile for mile, of any project in Transport 21. At a time when our country is experiencing a crisis of confidence, the work which is coming to fruition today serves to remind us of what people, Government and state agencies can achieve by working together. If the same spirit and model were to be applied to all areas of our country we would soon see a very different Ireland.
Today is a day for celebration by all people of goodwill and a victory for positive thinking. The real strength of the Western Rail Corridor is the sum of all its parts; by continuing now to Tuam and Claremorris our country will reap the real benefit of this magnificent piece of prime national infrastructure in terms of tourism, education, health and economic development. We must not forget that the Western Rail Corridor, when connected to Mayo, will provide an invaluable national freight pathway for bringing freight from the West to Waterford port, already a lucrative and profitable business for Iarnród Éireann.
The Government commitment to be in Tuam by 2011 remains a sensible and achievable objective and one which has the overwhelming support of all in this region. Let us continue to put our best foot forward and get on with the job right away.
That this railway will be a stunning success in serving the needs of commuters to Galway and Limerick is beyond doubt. Already Iarnród Éireann has been inundated with positive comment and enquiries. The commuter demand will be further strengthened by the addition of stops at Crusheen and Oranmore, which we hope to see in the near future, and we are absolutely confident that the volumes of commuter business alone will serve to confound the critics.
In looking first to commuters what has been reopened today is a work in progress. The infrastructure we open today affords for the first time in over 30 years a glorious business opportunity to develop high speed intercity rail services between Cork, Limerick and Galway, the second, third and fourth largest cities of the state, creating a strategic economic corridor which can then be extended to Sligo and further north. Let us now look to seizing that opportunity by speedily remedying the outstanding issues in terms of line speeds and by providing intercity trains for the intercity services.
Monday the 29th March 2010 is a good day for the Government, for Iarnród Éireann and for the West of Ireland, but the West on Track campaign is not over. The speedy delivery of the entire Western Rail Corridor in line with the Government’s commitment remains our immediate and determined priority.