Report highlights growing success
of Western Rail Corridor
Passenger numbers grow by 100% in 2015
The new Athenry to Ennis section (Phase One) of the Western Rail Corridor carried 102,000 passengers in 2015, more than double the numbers carried in 2014 and exceeding Iarnrod Eireann forecasts in the original business case for the re-opening of the Galway to Limerick passenger train service. Overall, the Galway -Limerick route carried more than 300,000 passengers in 2015.
Research conducted by Cicero Communications, Galway, for West On Track, with the co-operation of Iarnród Éireann, finds that passenger numbers are far exceeding projections and that traffic on the Galway-Limerick route is growing at a faster rate than on any other route in the country.
The Cicero findings are further confirmed in the recent publication of the National Rail Census by the National Transport Authority which found 1147 journeys took place on the Galway-Limerick Rail service on Rail Census Day 2015. This compares very favourably with other routes such as the Dublin –Belfast Enterprise service and the new Clonsilla –Dunboyne railway which the NTA revealed, carried 902 and 625, respectively. If annualised this would bring total rail journeys between Galway and Limerick to in excess of 400,000.
Launching the report, the Minister for Regional Economic Development, Michael Ring TD, confirmed that the process of bringing a major plan together for an Atlantic Economic Corridor was well underway and that he hoped to be in a position to announce details of the plan by December. He confirmed that the Mayo-Galway rail link, the next phase of the Western Rail Corridor was among the projects that would be actively considered. “Like everybody else in the west of Ireland I believe we have had enough reports. We now need to put infrastructure of all kinds into the west,” he said.
Seán Canney TD (Minister of State OPW) said that he was working closely with Minister Ring and other colleagues to ensure that the Atlantic Corridor becomes a reality. “The restoration of the Mayo-Galway rail link is a key part of that as far as I am concerned.” He added that he was pleased to confirm that the TII was writing to Galway County Council to confirm that a new railway bridge is to be built at Ballyglunin as part of the works on the new M17 motorway.
Speakers included Joe Gilmore CEO of Ireland West Airport, Kealan Flynn of Cicero Communications and Paddy McGuinness Chair of the Western Development Commission.
The event was attended by TDs, Senators and Councillors from across the region as well as representatives of DFDS Logistics (rail hauliers) and Waterford Port. It is understood that Mayo rail freight to Waterford is to double this week with the addition of Baxter traffic. A recent study by the Western Development Commission identified a four-fold growth potential in Mayo rail freight traffic that currently stands at over 1,100 freight trains to and from Mayo annually.