Fine Gael calls for
Western Rail Corridor to be re-openend
Tuesday 4th November 2003
Corridor is key element of balanced development
Fine Gael Transport spokesperson Denis Naughten TD today
(Monday) called on the Government to re-open the Western
Rail Corridor because it is essential for balanced regional
development and the National Spatial Strategy.
Speaking in Kiltimagh, Co Mayo, Deputy Naughten said
'getting this Line re-opened in the immediate future is a
priority for Fine Gael in Government, and in the interim we
intend to pursue Transport Minister Seamus Brennan on this
key infrastructural development'.
Deputy Naughten was visiting a section of the Western
Rail Corridor with Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny TD and Mayo
Senator Jim Higgins.
"The EU's recent announcement that it wants to prioritise
a 'Motorway of the Sea' in order to increase maritime
freight traffic between the Irish Sea and the Iberian
Peninsula strengthens the case for supporting rail freight
and reopening the Western Rail Corridor.
"The Western Rail Corridor has the potential to connect
the cities, towns and many rural communities along its route
to international markets by using ports such as Rosslare and
Waterford, in line with the EU proposal. These ports are
currently serviced by substandard roads.
"If the Western Rail Corridor was up and running, job
creation and population growth in rural areas would be much
more feasible. The existing line could be re-opened
relatively easily if the Government took the initiative and
entered into a Public Private Partnership to develop
commuter services for towns and cities along the route. It
is then quite feasible to introduce other services along the
rest of the corridor.
"This would be a cost-effective investment because
thousands of miles of rail are currently lying unused around
the country. Instead of being allowed to rust away, this
rail could be used to reopen the Western Rail Corridor. Much
of the jointed rail left behind after upgrading the
Intercity lines could be laid on the Western Rail Corridor,
thereby upgrading the line at a fraction of the current
"In tandem, Iarnrod Éireann could introduce an
efficient rail service along the length of the line by
leasing rail carriages (such as diesel multiple units)
rather than purchasing them, in order to provide Intercity
and commuter services.
"The Government should also immediately prioritise rail
investment to the ports of Rosslare, Waterford and Foynes,
as well as providing a subvention for rail freight.
"Fine Gael also believes that the development of key
infrastructure like the Western Rail Corridor should not
have to depend on having an existing population along the
route. Instead, the Western Rail Corridor would do a great
deal to improve balanced regional development by improving
access between rural areas, towns and cities along the
Western Seaboard. If the rail system was properly managed,
it would boost economic growth in rural Ireland, and help
alleviate the pressures on our capital.
"The Western Rail Corridor should be used to stimulate
development in this area, rather than follow development
into the area. But the typical Government response is to
wait until development nodes and growth areas along the
Western Corridor have become established before it will even
consider the rail link.
"If Transport Minister Seamus Brennan is serious about
decentralisation and balanced regional development as
outlined in the Spatial Strategy, he must kick-start the
process by providing the investment.
"The key steps, which must be immediately taken by the
Minister for Transport, are:
- Invest in the western rail line to make the line
viable (a key objective of EU transport policy)
- Develop commuter services to Sligo, Galway and
Limerick and the Mayo Link between Ballina, Castlebar and
- Expand the network to include Knock and Shannon
Airports, ensuring their future viability following the
Government's decision to abandon the Shannon
- Immediately introduce Arrow type railcars (diesel
multiple units) on to the Western Rail Corridor
- Use tax credits to encourage commuters to use the
public transport system
- Provide timetables that will allow an interconnector
service in the region
- Provide a bus shuttle service at all depots to take
passengers to and from railway stations
- Introduce a structured subsidy to encourage the use
of rail freight, which will ease the pressure on the
region's sub-standard road network
"A vibrant region in the modern age needs a proper road
and rail infrastructure to attract and compete at the top
level, and to encourage employment and investment to its
area. A trade-off of one in favour of the other is not an
option, even in this time of economic uncertainty."