MEPs speak at rail meeting

Two MEPs are supporting a move that could see huge improvements in transport for the people of East Mullingar.

Independent MEP Marian Harkin and Fine Gael’s Jim Higgins both attended a meeting last night to support the re-opening of Killucan railway station.

Jim Higgins says the rail link makes “absolute social, economic, and environmental sense” and Marian Harkin says she believes the re-opening of the station is “a win-win situation for all concerned”.

The station would provide “a very attractive alternative” to those in rapidly developing East Mullingar who find themselves sitting in choked-up traffic attempting to get to Mullingar station, says Denis Leonard of Killucan and Kinnegad Transport Lobby Group who organised the meeting.

The Advertiser spoke to both politicians in advance of the gathering which took place while the paper was going to press.

Marian Harkin has already written to CIE and the Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey and despite receiving “standard responses” will be putting her full weight behind the campaign to help the community make its case.

“Sometimes bureaucratic decisions are made but in many cases there needs to be an assessment of a particular situation. Just because there’s a policy doesn’t mean they can ignore everything that comes up.”

She finds the current situation unbelievable. “It’s amazing to think the train is passing by and people can only look at it.”

She adds that Killucan station is really important for the whole community and the cost of putting it in place is “minimal”, especially when there’s a local group willing to do everything they possibly can and are not looking for a green-field site.

Jim Higgins agrees that the station and rail link will be “much cheaper to deliver in terms of capital cost,” saying the expenditure needed is “a drop in the ocean compared to bypasses and motorways”.

He will be pressing the EU for money for a feasibility study compiled with a view to getting money from Europe for the project.

“Even though most of the strategic funds have dried up with the new states, there is still €780m per annum for Ireland.”

He says the focus going forward “has to be on rail”, and describes past strategies which saw the rail network closed down across the country as “one of the most disastrous decisions ever”.

Most future development is planned around the east of the town, and he points to areas like Robinstown, Petitswood, and Richdale Court where commuters could enjoy a “hassle-free five or six minute drive” that would bring them a little closer to Dublin and away from heavy morning traffic volumes.

The aim of the meeting was to ensure that Killucan station is included in any review of Transport 21.

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