Local organisation Future Athenry Looking Group (FLAG ) has hit back at comments made by councillor Pete Roche about the disused Athenry to Sligo rail line.
In a four page statement to the Galway Advertiser, signed by Seamus Mulkerrins, Noel Doherty, and Kevin Higgins, the group says it is saddened by Cllr Roche’s remarks where he suggested it was “delusional” to believe the rail line from Athenry to Sligo would ever return.
“Over the past 200 years Athenry has been at the forefront of railway activity, serving our western communities. It is not an exaggeration to suggest that it has been the lifeblood and heartbeat of this area over this period.
“While they [rail lines] remain, they form a vital piece of our transport infrastructure that can be re-activated when required.
“It saddens [us] to see some of our current elected representatives dismiss and abandon our railway network and its importance to our communities.”
FLAG contended that far from being a delusional belief, the rail line will have to open in order to cope with projected population growth within Galway and Tuam.
“Galway and Tuam are the largest and second largest population centres in Galway county, projected to increase from 80,000 to 160,000 and 8,000 to 16,000 over the next 20 to 30 years respectively. There is already major congestion around Galway city on our roads despite the massive investment in our national road structure.
“There are already numerous people from areas such as Knocknacarra, Mervue, Ballybane, Kingston Park, Taylor’s Hill, Terryland, Newcastle, Salthill, Barna considering moving to Athenry so that they can be sure of arriving in Eyre Square or Shop Street inside 15 minutes and with 34 trains in and out of Galway city from Athenry, this demand will only increase and intensify.
“Tuam and north Galway will be left isolated without this train service. It is [therefore] not unreasonable to allow the Rail-Review Group study by our Government to complete its work before embarking on other schemes.”
The group was keen to stress that it supported the greenway project but not on the rail line.
“We fully support a greenway from Athenry to Sligo but our concern is the location. We do not want it on the rail line. The Western Rail Link is viable and should be extended.
“The removal of this service will greatly reduce the number of people travelling by train in the west of Ireland.”