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Firm would invest euro16m in airport rail link

The Irish Times (9th October 2003)

by Gordon Deegan

Plans to provide a commuter railway railway to Shannon airport yesterday secured a major breakthrough when a private company Beaux Walk Properties, said it was prepared to invest eurol6 million in the project. A report published yesterday by the Shannon Railway Company on the project concludes that the euro60 million commuter rail link between Shannon, Limerick and Ennis "is a viable commercial entity" through a public-private partnership.

The proposal envisages a regular seven-day service between the three centres using the existing rail line between Limerick and Ennis together with a new six-mile spur to be constructed to Shannon Town Centre, Shannon Free Zone and Shannon Airport. The proposed schedule anticipates a train service to and from Shannon Airport every 20 minutes to Limerick and Ennis. The Shannon Railway Company is a consortium of investors led by Beaux Walk Properties, which is currently constructing a 150 million redevelopment of Shannon Town Centre,

Yesterday , its managing director, Mr Barry Boland, said the proposed commuter rail link envisaged attracting 20 per cent of the estimated 230,000 weekly commuter car trips to use the new services. The report says there is a potential demand for 2.3 million passengers a year for the service in an area which has the highest single concentration of industrial employment outside the Dublin area. "Our assessment is that the service will generate sufficient profits within five years to render the project a viable commercial enterprise without any ongoing Government subvention," he said.

Mr. Boland said Shannon Rail Company was prepared to invest 37 million, provided the Government gives a tax break equivalent to the balance of euro23.5million. The funding proposal involves the euro23.5 million from the Government, investors' equity of euro26.5 million and bank borrowings of euro10 million. The Government is also being asked to provide euro4 million per annum for the first five years of the project.

The report says the costs of constructing the new six-mile spur to Shannon off the existing Limerick-Ennis line, along with upgrading parts of the current line, will come to euro41.8 million. Clare County Council in its recently adopted South-East Clare Economic Plan has prohibited development taking place within the corridor of the proposed rail link. Mr Boland said: "The proposed link is consistent with Government regional policy and will have a major impact on the development potential for the Limerick-Shannon gateway." To move the project forward, Mr. Boland said the promoters were prepared to undertake detailed technical, financial and market research study at a cost of euro500,000. The company had sent a copy of the report to the Minister for Transport, Mr Brennan, and had asked the Department of Transport for a euro200,000 grant towards the cost of an agreed feasibility study.








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