Irish Western Corridor
THE reopening of Ireland's Western Rail Corridor (WRC)
between Limerick and Sligo moved a step closer on February
13 when Transport Minister Seamus Brennan announced the
formation of a working group to investigate the issue.
The minister was speaking while on a visit to inspect
five stations on the currently disused or mothballed line
between Ennis and Colooney Junction near Sligo.
He was also launching a report commissioned by the lobby
group West on Track (WOT) which estimates the capital cost
of reopening the WRC would be 250 million euros (£174
million). This figure compares with the 572 million euros
(£397 million) as suggested by Strategic Rail Review
(SRR) published in April, which rejected the reopening of
the line on the basis of cost.
The report includes a detailed engineering and
photographic survey of the line from Colooney to Ennis with
a comprehensive analysis of the potential passenger base,
projected income and running costs. The report shows that
the line should cover its operating costs and could be
reopened in stages by 2007.
Mr Brennan rejected the conclusions of the SSR on the WRC
and announced the creation of a working party to examine
which sections of the line might be opened on a phased
The working party consists 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
WOT campaign and the Western Inter-County Rail
The minister specified the Tuam-Athenry-Galway section as
being the likely first stage of the process. A spokesman for
WOT told RAIL: "Our reaction is one of satisfaction with the
minister's approach and the fact that five government
ministers participated in the visit at different venues. We
reject the notion that this visit has been a political stunt
prior to an election."