The elected members of Ballina Municipal District have expressed their dismay at the recent decision by Dublin Port to suspend the freight link to Ballina and have asked the council to write to the Minister for Transport and Dublin Port on the issue.
Fianna Fáil councillor Annie May Reape raised the issue at the district's monthly meeting this week, saying: "I want to condemn out of hand the decision by Dublin Port to stop facilitating the freight trains from Ballina. To announce this without any consultation is completely unacceptable, this is a very important lifeline for Ballina. It transports the goods for many local industries and as many as seven returns (trips ) operate each week - at the moment we are trying to take heavy vehicles from our roads because of green energy and this is a total retrograde step for Ballina once again.
“I hope it is only a temporary measure and I know Deputy Calleary has already been in touch with the Minister for Transport and has been very strong on this. I ask that this Municipal District writes a very strong letter to the Minister and Dublin Port to have this reversed - it should be emailed immediately and then send the letter officially.”
She was backed by her fellow councillors, with Independent councillor Mark Duffy saying: "I support Annie-May’s proposal; it was very disappointing news to read that Dublin Port were discontinuing the access for the Ballina freight train; it is essential if we are serious about becoming a low carbon economy and a green future; the railway is a huge asset to us. Considering the fact that we now have a railway freight route opening up shortly to Waterford, it can help grow Ballina as an economic hub for freight and is a great boost for us, but this is a regressive step that can be very damaging to industry in the area if not reversed as soon as possible."
Fine Gael councillor Jarlath Munnelly also backed the call, saying: "I support this as well, this is Dublin Port who have made this decision, because they say it is causing congestion at the port. This isn’t a decision by Irish Rail, it is Dublin Port; it is solvable but the pressure needs to be put on." Director of Services for Mayo County Council, Tom Gilligan told the meeting:"Like everyone else I was disappointed and shocked when I saw the news, it should be discussed at the Roads SPC - because it will affect the whole county."