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West=On=Track - News

Rail line won't be built on sentiment

Sligo Champion - Wednesday 16th June 2004

The Chairman of the Working Group established to examine the re-opening of the Western Rail Corridor has said the project is "something that could happen." Ballymote native, Mr. Pat McCann, Chief Executive of the Jury's Doyle Hotel Group plc., was speaking following the first meeting of the group on Monday.

"We have gone into this with an optimistic outlook. There is no point in doing this exercise otherwise. The inaugural meeting has put structures in place to investigate a number of issues and I am delighted we are up and running," he told The Sligo Champion.

A number of Sub-Committees are to be established to examine various aspects of the proposal and another major meeting is planned in late August, or early September. The Sub-Committees are expected to review areas such as cost benefit, innovative means of securing funding, and the issue of Spatial Strategy and Regional Planning in relation to the W.R.C.

"It is something that could happen and we want to move our deliberations on as quickly as possible," said Mr. McCann.


Meanwhile, the Minister for Transport, Seamus Brennan, who addressed Monday's first meeting of the Working Group, said that the delivery of a convincing case would justify the long-term major investment of taxpayers' money in the scheme.

"It is time for realism, honesty and straight talking. This line will not get built purely on sentiment or emotion. The reality is that if the re-opening of the line is going to happen, then all of us have to come at it in a hard headed, practical way," he added. It would be the task of the Working Group to rigorously assess all aspects of the proposal, Minister Brennan stated. "At another level, there is the whole issue of the level of annual subvention that may be required year after year. The possible re-opening of sections of the line must also be rigorously assessed and justified in the context of the whole motorway development," he said.

The Minister explained that in looking honestly and in a practical way at the possibilities of re-opening sections of the line, there must be clear cut and convincing cases made on social grounds and on economic grounds.

"We need to crunch the figures and reach a state where we know exactly the level of investment involved. This can best be achieved by hard work, commitment and dedication on the part of this Working Group. This Group will not be a talking shop. I know it will be focussed, proactive and drive by a determination to take the hard decisions and to make realistic and achievable recommendations," he went on.

The Minister also underlined that if the Western Rail Corridor was to re-open, then it would happen in stages.








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