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Re-opening of Western Rail Corridor only possible after rigorous assessment, says Minister

Galway Independent

The phased re-opening of the Western Rail Corridor can only be achieved if the aspirations of all involved are backed up by rigorous assessment of the project, practical commitments and the delivery of a convincing case that will justify the long-term investment of taxpayer's money, Transport Minister Séamus Brennan told the inaugural meeting of the Expert Working Group set up to fully evaluate the proposal recently.

Mr Brennan said that the Government was committed to working with the regions to develop infrastructure that fitted in particularly well with the aims of the National Spatial Strategy. While the Strategy Rail Review did not include the Western Rail Corridor in its list of recommendations, Minister Brennan said that he did not accept that finding as final.

"The future of the Western Rail Corridor is very much on my agenda. I believe it warrants a longer and harder look. I am committed to a policy of rebalancing the West coast with the east coast. In achieving this, the Western Rail Corridor can play a central strategic role. If the Western Rail Corridor is to be part of the now expanding rail system then the members of this Working Group must evaluate and prove the case," Minister Brennan stated.

The Minister said that it was now time for realism, honesty and straight talking. The line would not be built purely on sentiment or emotion, and it would be the job of the Working Group to rigorously assess all aspects of the proposal, he stated.

"At one level the capital cost of re-opening sections of the corridor is the issue. 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."

Minister Brennan said that the Working Group, chaired by Jurys Doyle Hotel Group chief executive Pat McCann, would not be a talking shop. It would be focused, proactive and driver by a determination to take the hard decisions and to make realistic and achievable recommendations, he stated.








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