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County Sligo IFA Supports Opening of Western Rail Corridor

Joe Coulter PRO Sligo IFA
Monday March 29th 2004

Joe Coulter P.R.O. for Co. Sligo I.F.A., has strongly endorsed the West = on = Track campaign, to re-open the Western Rail Corridor from Sligo to Limerick. Reopening this railway will provide a major and much needed social and economic boost, to the rural communities of the west. Re-establishing a rail link to the west and south, will give service and opportunity, to the smaller towns and villages along the line and will be a catalyst for their regeneration.

To the people of Co. Sligo, urban or rural, farmer or non - farmer, this railway will provide choice; the choice for third level students to live at home and commute to Galway or Sligo; The choice for tourists to visit Sligo, from the south and for locals to travel abroad via Knock or Shannon airports, instead of Dublin; For day patients, outpatients and visitors, the hospitals of the West, Mid West and Sligo are all accessible via the W.R.C. Providing such choices, enhances the quality of life in rural communities, making them more attractive places in which to live. Pensioners can avail of free travel, like their counterparts in Dublin. A variety of new travel options will unfold, providing connections to shoppers, day trippers and business people across the region. Furthermore there is significant freight potential in the W.R.C.

The Western Rail Corridor project, is in keeping with the National Spatial Strategy objective of rebalancing the East/West division of Ireland. Dublincentric policies, have sucked the social and economic lifeblood from the regions for too long. An unequivocal commitment by Government, to open the entire Western Rail Corridor, is what the people want to hear. This is a West of Ireland issue & must not be allowed to become a political football. Having launched West = on = Track's consultants report, "Western Rail Corridor-Project Costings & Financial Projections" in Kiltimagh over five weeks ago, it is high time to activate the working group, announced that day. As recently as 23/3/2004,the Minister held out the prospect of "possible developments on re-opening the Western Rail Corridor" although he stressed later, "that no decision would be made until a group examining the issue had completed it's work". No formal announcement that the working group is up and running, begs the question as to what is actually happening?

There is a commitment under the National Development Plan to spend another euro322 million in the B.M.W. region on public transport. The entire re-opening of the W.R.C. from Sligo to Limerick, would seem an obvious way to spend euro250 million of this sum, on a project which everyone in the West knows is so badly needed. The suggestion that some of the B.M.W. money may be spent on Heuston Station Dublin, has been well & truly dismissed, as unacceptable to the people of the west of Ireland. While the under spend in the roads program appears to be addressed, suggestions as to how the Dept. of Transport will address the public transport under spend of euro322 million, are sadly lacking. Finally Mr. Coulter emphasised the necessity to avoid the danger, of the project being partly built, with Co. Sligo being left out.








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