The Minister of Transport Noel Dempsey has confirmed that Oranmore’s railway station could be up and running by next year, but the news was not so sweet for those councillors and other representatives who have been calling for such commitment for far too long.
There were many smiles and waves from members of the public who turned out in force on Monday to applaud the re-opening of the €106.5 million Limerick to Galway rail line and the first train journey along that route in 34 years.
Eager to garner continued support and quell criticisms Minister Dempsey announced that the Oranmore station will be reopened next year. The crowds that gathered also heard from Iarnrod Eireann chairman, Dr John Lynch, that planning permission will soon be lodged for the building of two new stations on the re-opened Limerick to Galway line. These are to be located at Oranmore and at Crusheen in Co Clare.
However Galway West and Oranmore based senator Fidelma Healy Eames expressed disappointment that the new station has not yet been built in Oranmore.
“Clearly, there is still a lot of dragging of heels. It has taken far too long to deliver this new station and as the old station is now derelict, the people of Oranmore and the wider catchment area, of around 15,000 people, are the losers. As fears abound about the non-viability of this new line, this poor financial forward planning by Iarnrod Eireann will mean it will lose out too.
“Oranmore is the only new stop on the line that would service both the Dublin and Limerick train routes. Having Oranmore up and running would mean extra revenue for Iarnrod Eireann and a lot more convenience for local commuters. In fact a new station in Oranmore would represent a three way gain for local commuters, to Galway, to Limerick, and to Dublin.
“As I join in the welcome for the new Limerick-Galway line today as an important part of the opening up of the Western Rail Corridor, I call on Iarnrod Eireann to name the date for the construction and opening of the new train station in Oranmore,” said Senator Healy Eames.
Minister Dempsey also stated that the Government was completely committed to the next phases of the Western Rail Corridor - from Athenry to Tuam, and from Claremorris to Mayo - but that this was dependent on finance and local support.
“I cannot overstate the critical importance of local support for phase 1 of the Western Rail Corridor in promoting the development of further phases of the Corridor. I am seeking to progress planning of the Western Rail Corridor Phases 2 and 3, to ensure that we are in a position to move speedily to construction at the earliest possible date.
“Now that the dream of reopening Phase 1 of the Western Rail Corridor has been realised, the challenge is to ensure its success,” said Minister Dempsey.