West-on-Track – Summer 2003

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Compliments of claremorrischamber.ie

The campaign to re-open the Western Corridor Railway between Limerick and Sligo is gathering momentum since its recent launch in Athenry.

The move to have the line re-opened is being spearheaded by a committee centred in Claremorris and is being support by community organisations in all areas served by the railway. In Athenry a number of groups and individuals are helping to co-ordinate the area’s support and awareness of the campaign.

These include Athenry ADC, Community Council, Heritage Company and Women’s Group, all of which attended the launch in the Teagasc Centre and are continuing to advance the cause by collecting signatures for the petition to the Minister for Transport, Seamus Brennan.

The hope is that the railway from Limerick to Sligo would be re-opened to both passenger and goods traffic in the next couple of years. Iarnród Éireann has the expertise and capacity within its own organisation to do the engineering work involved.

There is some controversy regarding the cost of re-opening the line. The consultants who drew up the Strategic Rail Review estimated a cost of €5OO million, while a rough estimate from Iarnród Éireann, who have renewed almost all the rail lines in the country at this stage, mentions a figure of €100 million. West-on-Track estimates the cost at about €2O0 million which would bring the track to a state comparable to that of the mainline railways. This would include new stations, new signalling, the automation of all level crossings and a second track from Athenry to Galway which would increase the capacity on the line greatly especially in the event of a wider commuter service.

A railway serving the Western seaboard would be a tremendous boost to the economy of the region. It would open up access to the South and South-East through Limerick and connect the four regional airports in the West — Sligo, Knock, Galway and Shannon, resulting in an increase in the number of tourists and the creation of a transport system which would make the region much more attractive for development and investment.

The spin-off for Athenry would be substantial. As a busy junction once again, the town would be the cross-roads of the West leading to increased visitor numbers and a rail service to anywhere in the country at our doorstep. In the event of an improved road (the N6) and rail network and the third level colleges of Galway so near, there must be opportunities for Athenry in terms of Government Decentralisation and other Service Industries.

A decision in principle on the Western Rail Corridor is due in the next number of months. Already the “vibes” from Dublin are quite positive with surprise expressed at the strength of the West-on-Track campaign. People power matters greatly in this case and that is why we must do our utmost over the next few weeks to bring the message home to the people who will make the decision that the answer must be positive

There are pre-written postcards to the Minister for Transport available — all you need to do is put a stamp on them, sign and post them. Make an effort to contact your public representative and make your feelings known, and sign the petition where you see it displayed.

This is one battle we could win!

Peter Feeney, Chairman, Athenry Community Council

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About this record

Written by Peter Feeney

Published here 09 Feb 2024 and originally published Summer 2003

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