Western Rail Corridor Must Not Become A 'Ghost Line'
Tuesday March 30th 2010
The President of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport* (CILT), Paul Mallee, has welcomed the opening of the first phase of the Western Rail Corridor from Limerick to Galway this week, and has called on the Government and local and regional authorities to use it is a vital piece of transport infrastructure and not become a “ghost line.”
Mr Mallee said that investing in rail transport at this time would help drive investment and foster balanced regional development across the west of the country – an area that has traditionally suffered from poor infrastructure that has hampered economic growth.
However, Mr Mallee expressed concerns at some comments from Government that a short-medium term judgment on the rail line and the future of rail infrastructure would be dependent exclusively on the profitability of the line.
Mr Mallee commented, “The campaign to re-open the Galway-Limerick train line and the wider development of the Western Rail Corridor has been a long time coming. Now that Phase One of the line is open, however, it is important that we park the discussion about the economic viability of the line and begin to drive passengers, freight, and users to it to ensure that it becomes a vital piece of transport infrastructure for the west of the country.
“It is pointless to invest so much money, time, and effort into the re-development of the line if we are to turn round and make short term decisions about its future based on how many people use it from the off. We should focus on the long term goal of moving toward sustainable modes of transport and shift away from our over reliance on the private car.
“That is why I am a little concerned at comments from Ministers Dempsey and Cuffe at the Department of Transport that rail lines would be closed and services suspended if there is insufficient user demand. To me, that sounds like starting-off from the wrong point.
“The clear message from the top down must be to make the best of these new lines as viable public transport options. If the will to do that is there, then passenger growth should look after itself. The last thing we need are any more ghost train lines on our network, rather we require a positive and wholehearted commitment to making rail traffic work.”
*The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), established in 1919, is a membership based organisation with over 30,000 members in more than 30 countries. CILT is the independent professional body for those engaged in logistics and all modes of transport, enhancing the professional knowledge and competence of its members through comprehensive training, continuing professional development and certified educational programmes.