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West on Track welcomes positive moves by Minister for Transport Séamus Brennan on the Western Rail Corridor

Press Release
Monday February 16th 2004

The West on Track community campaign has welcomed as "positive" the statement made by the Minister for Transport Mr. Séamus Brennan T.D. while on an official visit to five stations on the Western Rail Corridor and which brought out large crowds at every stop.

Speaking at Kiltimagh Mr. Brennan emphatically rejected the negative conclusions of last year's Strategic Rail Review about the Western Rail Corridor and announced that it was his intention to immediately assemble a high-powered working party to examine as a "matter of urgency" which sections of the line might be opened on a phased basis.

"This will not be a talking shop," said Mr. Brennan. " Its job will not be to commission new studies or reports but rather to identify the best way in which to begin the process of re-opening the corridor."

A West on Track spokesman said they were confident that the working-party would serve as the engine which would deliver the WRC in sections and in a time-span much shorter than many people might expect. It would however be important that the terms of reference, working time-scale and representation would be made known as soon as possible, he added.

It is understood that the working-party will consist of officials of the Department of Transport and Iarnród Éireann, representatives of the Western Development Commission and Western County Councils as well as representatives of the West on Track community campaign and the Western Inter-County Rail Committee.

The Minister specified the Tuam-Athenry-Galway section as being the likely first stage of that process once the figures had been examined. Two other sections are also expected to come under scrutiny in the context of the recent decentralisation announcement by the Government.

A spokesman for West on Track expressed surprise at the negative spin being put on the Minister's visit by some media representatives and politicians. "Our reaction is one of satisfaction with the Minister's approach and the fact that five Government Ministers including Minister Ó Cuív, participated in today's visit at different venues. We reject the notion that this visit has been a political stunt prior to an election. It is in fact an unprecedented response by the Transport Minister to the democratic voice of the entire Western community. Lest there be any misunderstanding we are already engaged in serious discussions with the Department and we intend to pursue our objectives even more vigorously over the coming months, both inside and outside this working-party," he added.

Earlier at the restored station house in Kiltimagh, Mr Brennan was formally presented with 100,000 signatures from communities throughout the West and Mid-West calling for the re-opening of the railway, which is believed to be the largest unused piece of railway infrastructure in Ireland and which is estimated to be worth up to euro400m.

Mr. Brennan also formally launched a major new study of the Western Rail Corridor, commissioned by West on Track. The report which includes an engineering and photographic survey of the line from Colooney to Ennis and gives a detailed analysis of potential passenger bases together with projected income and running costs, is expected to form a major part of the agenda for the soon to be announced working-party following the Minister's rejection of the Strategic Rail Review's conclusions about the Western Rail Corridor.








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