Economist’s comments show only way is the greenway says councillor

Cllr Pete Roche.

Cllr Pete Roche.

An article written by one of Ireland’s leading economists, Colm McCarthy, has added weight to the argument that the Quiet Man Greenway is more beneficial than the reopening of the rail line in Tuam, according to a Galway County Councillor.

Tuam area councillor Pete Roche’s comments come after Mr McCarthy argued in a column for the Irish Farmers Journal that reopening the Athenry to Claremorris rail line would be “guaranteed to lose money”.

The economist cited the example of the Athenry to Ennis rail line which opened in 2010, losing €2.6 million per year, and said that “there is insufficient potential traffic – passenger or freight” and that “rail freight in Ireland peaked about 40 years ago and has collapsed to negligible volumes”.

Echoing Mr McCarthy’s comments, Cllr Roche said the “pipe dream” of a train coming through Tuam is “based notion of rural Ireland” decades ago.

Cllr Roche said; “There was a need for trains [40 years ago] because of the deplorable state of our roads back then, when getting from A to B was near impossible, moving people and goods. However, we have an outstanding road network now which has reduced the significance of the train. There is no need for a train in Tuam because there would not be enough use, by goods and people.

“I have been campaigning for the upcoming election and there is a huge cry out for a greenway from the doorsteps. I have not come across any asking for a train service. A greenway would be a huge economic benefit and health benefit for Tuam and north Galway. I think it is time to park the train up.”

Councillor also warned it was important to heed the economist’s advice as the reintroduction of a train would inevitably mean a “loss of money” and “the closure of the rail in years”.

Cllr Roche said; “Colm McCarthy is a leading economist. He is somebody who understands [economics], if something is viable for use and fits well into an overall scheme. The rail review [of the Western Rail Corridor] has started and if the Government says it is viable, I will support it, but Colm [McCarthy] is rarely wide of the mark.”

Minister Ciaran Cannon said that the reopening of the line would result in the “crazy situation” where the rail line would be close for the second time.

Minister Cannon said; “To reopen the rail line would be tantamount to shovelling taxpayers’ money into a bottomless pit and we would be faced with the crazy situation that, having invested so heavily in it, we would eventually be forced to close the line for the second time in its history, making it a major economic fiasco.

“In this context alone, the Quiet Man Greenway is clearly the only sensible project to support,” he said.

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