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Disappointment at delay in Western Rail Corridor - Greens

Galway Green Party
Monday February 16th 2004

West on Track will arrive, but we must wait for a 'leap of faith' - Greens

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 Minister Brennan.

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.








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