The disused Athlone to Mullingar railway could be re-opened sooner than expected - but to bicycles rather than trains.
A feasability study is to be carried out into whether the much discussed rail line could be opened as a cycleway, pending its reopening as a rail line at some point in the future.
The suggestion is part of a draft Green Routes Strategy put forward by Athlone Town Council this week. The strategy aims to encourage alternative and sustainable forms of transport, such as walking and cycling, within Athlone and its environs.
Director of services Barry Kehoe said it wouldn’t cost the council much to convert the line to a cycleway.
Councillors agreed that the proposal would be an imaginative use of the idle tracks. Cllr Sheila Buckley Byrne said the idea was “very innovative”, while Cllr Aengus O’Rourke felt it would be a strong attraction for the area.
The Green Routes Strategy also includes the introduction of a cycle network connecting residential areas to the town centre and areas of employment, and proposals for traffic calming and improved footpaths in the town.