Éireann supports western rail
Clare Champion - Friday
5th November 2004
by Joe O'Muircheartaigh
Iarnród Éireann is backing the re-opening
of the Western Rail Corridor and says the first stage of the
development should be the re-opening of the Ennis to Athenry
section of the line.
Iarnród Éireann chief executive Joe Meagher
claims the project will become a reality if the will is
there and says the re-opening of the line which has been
closed for nearly 30 years will be a political decision.
"Sometimes when we are seen to prioritise things and it
is not on our list, it is perceived that we are against it,
which isn't the case," Mr. Meagher said.
"We are all railway people and we want to see the railway
developed but we have to do it in stages. If the local
authorities along the WRC get their act together, which I'm
sure they will, the case will be made," he added.
Welcoming Mr. Meagher's comments, a spokesman for West on
Track said that it was becoming increasingly clear that
Iarnród Éireann would be prepared to develop
the Western Rail Corridor provided the necessary funding is
made available by the Government.
"Mr. Meagher is right to say that the re-opening of the
WRC will be a political decision. Indeed it is clear that
the whole issue will have a major influence on the next
election in the West and Mid-West region," the West on Track
"Given the massive underspend in the BMW region and the
likely positive recommendation of the project by the
Government-established Working Group due to report in
December, there will no longer be any justifiable reason for
not proceeding with the re-opening of the railway which
links the three cities of Limerick, Galway and Sligo with
Cork and Waterford," the spokesman added.
The campaign for re-opening the Western Corridor is being
led by 'West on Track' and was started last year in the wake
of the publication of the Government sponsored 'Strategic
Rail Review' which placed Clare and the West of Ireland way
down the priority list for the national network.
The independent report carried out by the Booz Allen
Hamilton consultants group informed the Government that
investment of up to ¤8.5 billion will be needed to
provide Ireland with a modern reliable network.
Hopes held locally in Clare that the report would give
priority to the creation of a western rail corridor from
Sligo down to Cork were dashed. Instead priority was given
to routes out of Dublin.
The report placed the upgrading of the Ennis to Limerick
line, the re-opening of the Ennis/Athenry/Sligo line and the
development of a spur line to Shannon near the bottom of the
priority list for rail services.
The consultants put capital costs for the Western
corridor project at ¤572 million, with annual operating
costs of ¤49 million and a yearly infrastructure
maintenance bill of ¤12 million. The rail corridor
closed in 1976 when estimated annual losses of £250,000
prompted Coras Iompair Éireann to discontinue the
Limerick to Claremorris line. The closure meant that to
travel by rail from Galway to Limerick a commuter had take a
train to Portarlington before transferring to the Limerick
Other advocates of re-opening the line include the
Western Development Commission and the BMW Regional Assembly
while a group of private investors in the Mid-West have put
forward a proposal to run a spur line from the
Ennis-Limerick route to serve Shannon Airport.
The Shannon Railway Company says that ¤60 million
commuter rail link between Shannon, Limerick and Ennis "is a
viable commercial entity" through a public-private
partnership. The Shannon Railway Company is a consortium of
investors led by Beaux Walk Properties, which is currently
constructing a 150 million redevelopment of Shannon Town