A Sligo TD is hoping to move the ambitious but contentious plan to develop a greenway along the Sligo to Mayo section of the Western Rail Corridor a little further along the track.
Fine Gael representative, Tony McLoughlin, is calling on the Minister for Transport Pascal Donohue to provide funding for a feasability study on the Sligo section of the potential greenway cycle route.
Campaigners for the project, dubbed the ‘Western Rail Trail’, are proposing developing the disused section of the railway from Colloney in Sligo, through east and south Mayo and onwards to Athenry, Galway, into a new greenway.
They are promoting the project as a major potential tourism boost for the region, to mirror the success of the Great Western Greenway in west Mayo.
They also say it would be possible to eventually link the new greenway with other greenways, including the planned Dublin-Galway route.
However, the proposal is causing much consternation amongst some groups in Mayo, such as West on Track, which has been campaiging for more than 10 years to see the disused section of the Western Rail Corridor reopened as a fully fledged rail route.
Deputy McLoughlin wants to pedal on with the project despite opposition in Mayo and has requested funding for ‘phase one’ of the greenway from Sligo to the Mayo border, in the hopes the full route through Mayo and on to Galway will gain support at a later date.
“I firmly believe that this greenway project will create jobs in the region and along the full route when it is fully constructed,” said Deputy McLoughlin last week.
“I simply asked the Minister to back up his previous statements on the proposed greenway and to ensure that the required funding for this important study is provided during the lifetime of this Government.”
Brendan Quinn of Sligo Mayo Greenway, a group campaigning in favour of the Western Rail Trail, welcomed Deputy McLoughlin’s support for the greenway.
“We are delighted Tony McLoughlin has come on board to support us and to push the Minister to get this project moving forward,” said Mr Quinn.
In a previous interview with the Mayo Advertiser on this issue last year, Charlestown based Sinn Fein councillor Gerry Murray said it would be “foolish” to compromise the future reopening of the railway line, and the possible industrial investment this could attract to the region.