Minister Ciaran Cannon and Deputy Anne Rabbitte have this week confirmed that they are preparing to make a joint submission to a review of Phase 2 of the Western Rail Corridor.
The review commenced just last week, despite being committed to in the Programme for Government over two years ago. Both of the Galway East Oireachtas representatives have been actively campaigning for the development of a greenway along a disused section of the Western Rail Corridor from Athenry to Milltown and see the making of this submission as a critical part of the campaign.
They also make the case that the development of a greenway does not in any way undermine the possibility of developing a rail service if such a service is required in the future.
“The review of the viability of Phase 2 of the Western Rail Corridor is a valuable opportunity for Anne and I to make the case for a greenway which would transform the economic and social life of so many towns and villages in East Galway.
“This railway line has lain idle for 42 years, it’s owned by us the people, and it needs to be used for the benefit of our people. In our submission we intend to make the case that the greatest benefit to be derived from this piece of public infrastructure right now is through the development of a greenway and we have conclusive evidence from other regions in Ireland that this benefit is very substantial and sustainable.
“We also have evidence that it would be possible in the future to facilitate a greenway and rail service side by side if this became necessary”, said Minister Cannon.
Earlier this week, both Oireachtas representatives were made aware of the terms of reference of the rail review as set out in a memo to government four weeks ago. The review process requires Iarnród Éireann to arrange the preparation of a financial and economic appraisal on proposals for extending the Western Rail Corridor from Athenry to Claremorris.
In preparing this appraisal Iarnród Éireann must conduct a broad consultation with key stakeholders and engage appropriate transport and economic expertise to independently review the robustness of the appraisal and also to ensure that all submissions received from the stakeholder consultation have been appropriately considered.
“This review is our chance as representatives of Galway East to voice the collective opinion of our constituents as to how this rail line should be used for our benefit,” said Deputy Rabbitte.
“The campaign for the development of a greenway from Athenry to Milltown is gaining huge momentum now and it’s more than apparent to Ciaran and I that we have a duty to support our local community leaders who have been working hard on this campaign for many years now. That’s our job as TDs for East Galway, to set aside our political differences and stand shoulder to shoulder with the people who have the best interests of our local communities at heart.
“We will be making a very strong case for the development of our new East Galway greenway while at the same time allowing for a rail service in the future, if necessary”, said Deputy Rabbitte.
It is hoped that there will be an early publication of the outcome of the rail review so that the rail line north of Athenry will no longer remain dormant but will be put to use in supporting the economic development of East Galway.