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