Statement by Minister Éamon Ó'Cuív TD
Monday March 29th 2010
This is a very important day for the West of Ireland. On this day the first phase of the Western Rail Corridor, that will eventually link Limerick to Sligo with connections to Galway, Castlebar and Ballina, will open. I am delighted that at last the first phase of this historic project will open and I welcome the fact that there will be five services in each direction on weekdays and that these will accommodate commuters coming and going to both Galway and Limerick City.
For many many years, there has been an ongoing campaign to reopen this historic railway line and thus aid the development of infrastructure in the West. I would like to compliment Iarnród Éireann on the quality of the work done in reopening the line and also for introducing attractive adult commuter monthly tickets on the line. These are particularly attractive when the discounts for tax under the Taxsavers Commuter Scheme are taken into account. For example, the net cost of a Commuter Ticket from Craughwell or Ardrahan to Galway will be about €3 daily.
I also welcome the ongoing survey work that has been carried out between Athenry and Tuam and between Tuam and Claremorris.
The Athenry to Tuam section of the line will, I understand, pose very few logistical challenges and was the section of line with the highest specification. It also has particularly few farmer or level crossings on it and that makes it very easy to develop. The recent survey by the Western Development Commission showed that the number of people travelling from the Tuam area and generally North of Galway to work in Galway exceeds those travelling from the South and therefore the reopening of the Tuam to Athenry to Galway link should prove to be the most viable of all of the sections of the line.
I look forward to Iarnród Éireann making proposals for the reopening of this line, in line with Transport 21 and to the work continuing on a phased basis to reopen the full length of line from Sligo to Limerick.
On this special day it would be remiss of me not to thank the Inter-County Committee that worked for so many years in preserving the line and also pursuing its redevelopment. Local Authority members from all Parties supported this effort, ably led by An tAthair Micheál Mac Gréil. I would also like to thank the West-On-Track campaign led by Martin Cunniffe and Colmán Ó Raghallaigh who have been persistent in their efforts to get this line reopened. Their persistence has paid off. As Minister of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, I was delighted to be of assistance in their work and that we now see the results of these efforts.