Mayo Fine Gael TD Alan Dillon, has stressed the importance of connectivity between towns and cities, stating that vital rail infrastructure must be provided in future to ensure that a new, post-Covid-19 economy, can flourish west of the Shannon.
Deputy Dillon expressed his ambition for delivery of the long-awaited Western Rail Corridor to move to the next stage of development, following acknowledgment from the Minister for Climate Action, Communication Networks and Transport, Eamon Ryan, that 'the Western Rail Corridor will be included in the National Economic Plan currently being framed and a decision on its viability will be made soon'.
Deputy Dillon stated: "Minister Ryan indicated that the Western Rail project is currently under consideration in the bigger wider strategic context of economic development.
"The Minister outlined in the Dail the importance of particular passenger rail services coming on the back of the real key strategic benefit from which will be industrial rail freight capability, which will bring employment manufacturing to the western region, which has clean power, clean water, highly skilled manufacturing workforce.
"Minister Ryan confirmed he received a copy of the Iarnrod Eireann report commissioned by consultants Ernst and Young. This report is now being subjected to a short independent review to fully inform his considerations before presenting to Cabinet and he assured that this independent review would be competed very soon.
"The existing Western Rail Corridor runs for 234 kilometres from Sligo to Limerick. From a Mayo perspective, its reopening as an Irish Rail network would offer a direct link with the cities of Galway, Limerick, Cork and Sligo. It is a vital route for medical and educational purposes."
Deputy Dillon concluded: "The prospect, for Mayo, is of attracting a percentage of the 1.6 million tourists who visit Galway every year, as a result of the rail link, not to mention the increased prospects of attracting further multinational investment, growing jobs and supporting vibrant local communities.
"It would also connect by rail three international airports, three universities and four institutes of technology, with the possibility of further linking northwards to Letterkenny and Derry," he said.