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West=On=Track - News

Irish Western Corridor Revival

By Hassard Stacpoole

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 basis.

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 Committee.

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."








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