Hopes high for Tuam-Galway
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
The Government will then use this finding as the hook on
which to hang the necessary funding, the source
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
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