Westmeath County Council has lodged an application for funding for a hop-on hop-off tourist train under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.
Local Independent councillor, Michael O’Brien, originally raised a motion in November 2016, for the provision of the service via the old rail track between Athlone and Moate.
Cllr O’Brien said the initiative has the potential to enhance the tourism product offered in the Midlands by linking up attractions in Westmeath, Offaly, and Roscommon in one sweeping offering. He added that the initiative has the potential to boost economic activity in the locality, with spillover into the restaurant and hospitality industry, and to create employment.
The train would be a dual purpose vehicle capable of travelling on both rail and road, in order to visit some attractions not serviced by the old railway line.
Cllr O’Brien has pointed to the success of similar tourist trains in other parts of the country including Galway, Kilkenny, and Waterford.
“We really have so much to offer in Westmeath in terms of tourism, and I think it is vitally important that we develop our tourism product to its fullest potential,” Cllr O’Brien said. “I welcome the news that the council has applied for funding under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme. Not only will it bring more people to larger towns like Athlone, it will also attract tourists to attractions located outside these areas in rural Ireland.”