Europe hopefuls endorse Sligo-Galway railway

Three sitting MEPs and ten other European election candidates in the Midlands North-West constituency have pledged their support to re-open of the Sligo-Galway rail link.

Sitting MEPs Maria Walsh, Chris MacManus and Luke Ming Flanagan, along with election candidates Senator Lisa Chambers, Peadar Tóibín, Senator Pauline O’Reilly, Ciarán Mullooly, Niall Blaney TD, Saoirse McHugh, Fergal Landy, Michelle Smith, James Reynolds and Daniel Pocock have declared the disused Sligo-Galway rail link’s reinstatement and its redevelopment can be an economic driver for the northwest region.

A spokesperson for West on Track said that the support of the overwhelming majority of candidates in the Midlands North West constituency is indicative of the need for urgent infrastructural investment in the region.

“It is very welcome that so many candidates of all parties and none can see the obvious opportunity that lies in the reconnection of Sligo and Galway by rail. The North West region was recently downgraded to a ‘Lagging Region’ by the European Commission when its GDP per head of population fell to 71 per cent of the European average, and is now ranked 218th out of 234 in terms of infrastructural development with only 16 regions worse off in Europe. This shows just how urgently critical enabling infrastructure like the railway is needed for our region.

“The recent successful application by the government to reinstate the Athenry-Claremorris section of the Western Rail Corridor as part of the European Ten-T comprehensive network means that the next phase of the project can now qualify for up to 30 per cent EU funding. We now need to have the vision and ambition to continue the project to Sligo. The line to Sligo can be renewed with just 1 per cent of the current NDP transport budget. It is a major transport asset that can no longer be ignored or, worse still, thrown away,” the spokesperson added.

Many of the MEPs and election candidate who are publicly declaring their support for the restoration of the railway also attended a recent regional development conference, held in the Radisson Hotel, Sligo, which heard calls for urgent infrastructural investment in the west including the completion of the final leg of the Western Rail Corridor project reconnecting Mayo to Sligo, once the planned Galway-Mayo section of the railway has been completed. The conference, entitled ‘Delivering Regional Balance - The essential role of infrastructure’, was attended by over 300 people.

 

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