Phase one of the Western Rail Corridor is due to get under way in September, enabling rail travel from Galway to Ennis, Limerick, and on to Cork, Tralee, Rosslare, and Waterford. It could also be a boost for business and tourism.
The Transport Minister Noel Dempsey was in Galway recently where he confirmed the Government’s commitment to the strategy and he also made announcements on the first phase of works on the line. Phase two, which will see services from Athenry to Claremorris via Tuam, will open up the network to Mayo allowing rail travel from Ballina, Castlebar, and Westport to the mid west and south.
Minister Dempsey said funding had been set aside in the current year to enable Iarnród Éireann to conduct the necessary line surveys to Tuam and Claremorris in order to ascertain up to date costings for these sections. He also said that the Western Rail Corridor had an important role to play in delivering the national spatial strategy.
The Western Development Commission welcomed the Minister’s statement and said the WRC will bring “significant benefits for commuters, tourists, and enterprise”.
The chief executive of the Western Development Commission, Lisa McAllister said the reintroduction of rail services from Athenry to Ennis, scheduled for September, will radically improve intra-regional transport and increase economic activity between the towns and villages on and adjacent to the route.
“This type of infrastructure project is exactly what’s needed to grow critical mass in the west, and is vital for more regionally balanced development,” she said. “The real benefit of the Western Rail Corridor, the rail line from Sligo through to Galway and on to connections in the south, will be improved access within the region in an environmentally sustainable manner.”
The WDC is calling on the public to support the rail service once it is up and running.
“Schedules and time-tables must be devised to meet consumer demand,” said Ms McAllister. “Quality rolling stock, good park-and-ride facilities, and creative pricing and effective marketing to promote the new rail services will be the final ingredients in delivering a service that caters for customer demand.”