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