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The Western Rail Corridor - The West's Prime Transport Infrastructure

A Message to the people of the West from Dr Mícheál Mac Gréil SJ, Secretary of Western Inter-County Railway Committee and Patron of the West on Track campaign

Impíonn Coiste Iarnróid Idir-Chontae an Iarthair agus eagraithoirí an fheachtais West on Track ar phobal an iarthair tacú leo siúd ata ag iarraidh ar an Aire Iompair an bóthar iarainn ó Shligeach go Luimneach a athnuachan láithreach. Is ar son leas na nadaoine agus fornbairt an phobail in iarthar na hÉireann a iarrtar ar an rialtos an tógra tábhachtach seo a thabhairt cchun críche ag an am seo i stair na tíre. Toisc go bhfuil bealach an bhóthair iarainn slán fós i seilbh an stáit ní chosnóidh an athnuachan an oiread sin airgid i dtéarmaí an lae inniu.

For almost a quarter of a century (since 1979) the Western Joint RDO Railway Committee and later the Western Inter-County Rail Committee have kept up a logical and sustained campaign to re-open the cross-radial rail link between Sligo and Rosslare (via Limerick). These committees were composed for the greater part (75%) of County Councillors, officials and advisors from each of the Connaught counties. Through their efforts a reasonable case for the cross-radial route was made to Government (including two substantial reports). In addition to keeping the public aware of this valuable infrastructure, part of which is now known as the Western Rail Corridor from Sligo to Limerick, the Western Inter-County Rail committee succeeded in preventing CIÉ from removing the track, thus ensuring that the thoroughfare remained in public ownership. This latter achievement means that the cost of restoring the railway to train worthiness is greatly reduced.

The recently mounted community campaign by West on Track, for the renewal of the tracks and the restoration of passenger and freight services on the Western Rail corridor has indeed been most timely. It coincides with a general reappraisal in Europe and in Ireland of the greater use of railways for the benefit of the travelling public and for the transport of goods overland. Recently in Ireland there has been a welcome re-investment in rail transport infrastructure especially in Dublin and on the Eastern side of the country. The upgrading of the radial mainlines from Dublin to the provinces is also to be welcomed and the quality of railway engineering by Iarnród Éireann's workforce is to be complimented.

The West on Track campaign, therefore, marks an important new phase in the campaign and will, it is hoped, continue to attract such public support as to make it possible for our democratically elected government to respond positively to the needs of the people of the North-West, the West and the South-West of Ireland in relation to rail infra-structure. The benefits for the people will be very considerable in terms of regional development, promotion of tourism, inter-regional contact, quality of life, protection of the environment, relief of congested roads and provision of greater access to and from Galway, Sligo and Limerick-Ennis-Shannon, all of which were recognised as "Gateway cities in the National Spatial Strategy.

It will also benefit the many communities en route: Sligo, Collooney, Coolaney, Tobercurry, Curry, Charlestown, Swinford, Kiltimagh, Claremorris, Ballindine, Milltown, Tuam, Ballyglunin, Athenry, Oranmore, Galway, Craughwell, Ardrahan, Gort, Crusheen, Ennis, Shannon, and Limerick. The National shrine at Knock as well as the two international airports at Shannon and Knock will also benefit from the restoration of the Western Rail Corridor.

If the people of the West of Ireland and their neighbours in the North-West and South-West unite behind this project now we are sure to receive a positive Government response. In my opinion, Iarnród Éireann has the expertise and ability to restore the line from Collooney to Ennis in less than three years at a cost of less than one million euro a mile! This is an inter-community project worthy of maximum support. Now is the operative time!

Ar aghaidh linn le chéile!
Mícheál Mac Gréil








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