A campaign group set up to seek to use part of the Western Rail Corridor as a greenway until such time as it can be developed to provide a rail service has this week welcomed comments from Iarnród Éireann indicating the company would be open to the project.
The group, the Western Rail Trail Campaign, was reacting to comments this week by IE director of infrastructure Don Cunningham at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications. Mr Cunningham said IE would be open to nonoperational railway lines being developed for alternative uses, provided there was an understanding that they could revert to operational use in the future.
The Western Rail Trail Campaign is seeking to protect the alignment of the non-operational railway line from Athenry to Collooney in County Sligo by placing a greenway on the route until such time as a railway is possible.
Brendan Quinn of the Western Rail Trail Campaign welcomed Mr Cunningham’s statement and said similar sentiments had been expressed by Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe, in correspondence with the group. Mr Quinn said Minister Donohoe had indicated that a greenway along the route would protect the integrity of the line.
“We are pleased to see Mr Cunningham of Irish Rail is taking the same view as the Minister,” Mr Quinn said.
“Greenway campaign groups the Tuam Greenway Project, the Sligo Mayo Greenway Campaign, and the Sligo Greenway Project Campaign, all support the view of both Mr Cunningham and the Minister. A greenway built under licence, with the railway route leased out on the basis that if an operational railway ever becomes possible again in the future, is the accepted international best practice used in other countries for this kind of situation.
“Now we know the official line of Irish Rail and the Minister on this issue there should be no further delay in utilising this route now to expand the greenway network in the west and help our tourism industry which is crying out for this vital piece of tourism infrastructure to be built.”