Disappointment at delay in
Western Rail Corridor - Greens
Galway Green Party
West on Track
will arrive, but we must wait for a 'leap of faith' -
Monday February 16th 2004
The Galway Greens who attended the West on Track Launch
in Kiltimagh, say that the Government's commitment fell
short of everyone's expectations. Kieran Cunnane, the
party's North and East Ward Candidate in the City who
attended the launch says that on the positive side, it now
looks like the rail project is really being taken seriously.
A project Committee is being set up between West on Track,
Iarnrod Eireann and the Government and local authorities.
On the negative side, nothing concrete was announced.
We all believed that at the very least, the Tuam-Galway Line
via Athenry and Oranmore would be announced on the day by
Mr. Cunnane says that it was difficult to tell if the
Government was engaging in pre-election trickery by creating
false hope for the people of the west, or whether they
simply haven't got the bottle just yet, to carry the project
through. Minister Brennan said that even with all the
analyses, costing and projections, it will still come down
to a 'leap of faith' or a 'leap of vision'. This sums up the
situation exactly; he is acknowledging that vision is
required, so the only reason for not proceeding would be
lack of vision.
The amazing thing is that the money is there says Mr.
Cunnane. The BMW region only received 48.7% of its road
funding in 2002 and 51% of its public transport funding
(mainly for rail) in 2000-02. This represents a shortfall in
funding of 322 Million for the BMW region. EU tax breaks for
freight rail would provide an additional economic incentive.
The line costs 249.72 Million to build, but the Government
would get a huge chunk of this money back in tax. Servicing
114 miles from Sligo to Ennis will cost 2.2 million per
mile, compared with 50 Million for Luas and much higher
again for the Dublin Metro. If you look at all the benefits,
implementation of the National Spatial Strategy,
decentralization and the relieving of Dublin, the
revitalization of rural Ireland, tourism, affordable housing
and all the other social benefits, how can we afford not to
implement West on Track.
Mr. Cunnane concludes that we have to be positive about
the outcome. The West on Track Campaign has been given a new
platform by the Government, thanks to all the great work
they have put in. The book which they launched contains
input from many experts, along with the costing, analysis
and projections required. This would have costs the
Government 100s of thousands via their own consultants. The
new project group means that the West on Track Campaigners
are really being taken seriously. The train is sitting ready
to leave the station; the only question now is when the
'leap of faith' will arrive to set it in motion.