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West=On=Track - News

Hopes high for Tuam-Galway Commuter Link

Tuam Herald
October 2003

by Tony Galvin

EXPECTATIONS are growing that the Government will announce the re-opening of the Western Rail Corridor linking Sligo with Limerick via Tuam before the end of the year.

A well informed source has indicated to The Herald that a Western Development Commission report on the development of small and medium sized towns in the West due to be published in November will recommend the reopening of the line as a priority.

The Government will then use this finding as the hook on which to hang the necessary funding, the source indicated.

The rail corridor is expected to be opened on a phased basis with the first phase being the Tuam to Athenry section of the line. This section is considered the most viable option as it will facilitate the development of a commuter rail link between Tuam and Galway.

Eventually campaigners for the re-opening of the corridor hope to see a full passenger and freight service along the line with connections at Claremorris and Athenry to Dublin lines and the development of Charlestown station as a link with the expanding Knock Airport.

The West On Track campaign has kept political pressure on the Government for some time and several leading members are now optimistic that their efforts will bear fruit before the end of this year.

However, the campaigners are adamant that they will not be fobbed off with the opening of the Tuam to Galway line and will insist on a timetable for the complete project to be worked out. In addition they are looking for an assurance from Iarnrod Eireann that it will be a passenger and commuter-friendly service and not run simply to suit the company.

Meetings between West On Track campaigners, Minister for Rural, Gaeltacht and Community Affairs, Eamon O Cuív and Transport Minister Seamus Brennan are scheduled for the coming weeks. Both Ministers have strong West of Ireland connection, Seamus Brennan is a native of Galway, Eamon O Cuív is a TD for Galway West, and are understood to be very supportive of the plan.

West On Track campaigners have garnered major support for their high-profile campaign in communities stretching from Sligo to Limerick and now represent one of the most powerful lobby groups in the region.

Their expose of the discrepancies between development funding in the different regions has greatly strengthened their cause as has their highlighting the fact that hundreds of million of Euro earmarked for projects in the BMW region have not been drawn down.

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte is due in Claremorris on November 1 to pledge his party's support for the project and Enda Kenny will attend a similar meeting in the near future. It is expected that the Government will be anxious to extract all possible political advantage from the project and signal their intentions sooner rather than late








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