Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has stated that the case for the Western Rail Corridor is strong. He was responding to Mayo Deputy Alan Dillon who raised the issue of the long-awaited development of the Western Rail Corridor in Dáil Éireann recently.
The Mayo Fine Gael TD told the Tánaiste that the issue of the long-awaited phase two and three of the Western Rail Corridor from Athenry in Galway to Claremorris in Mayo is one that needs to be addressed. He said: “It is absolutely critical that the economic argument for the Western Rail Corridor, both freight and rail, are included in the All-Ireland Strategic Rail Review report to boost sustainable connectivity and to address regional imbalance.
“I attended a conference in Tuam entitled “Achieving Regional Balance – A New Approach to Development Policy” organised by West on Track and hosted by Action Tuam where there is cross-party support across the entire Western region for the restoration of this key piece of infrastructure which has lain idle for too long.
“If the corridor is extended to Claremorris, it will deliver on its strategic objective of connecting the ports of Waterford and Foynes to Ballina at the same time. For that reason the Foynes project and the Galway-Mayo link should commence without delay as both are shovel-ready projects. The importance of opening the Western Rail Corridor cannot be stressed enough.”
Mayo Senator Lisa Chambers also attended the conference where she stated: “This project is hugely important for the economic, cultural and social development of the West. It is also interlinked with the Atlantic Economic Corridor where ultimately we want to link the West and North West via rail to Derry."
Mayo Sinn Fein TD Rose Conway Walsh also raised the matter as she urged TDs to back a Dáil motion by the party to deliver affordable, reliable and safe public transport in Mayo, saying: “Sinn Féin has a detailed, fully costed plan to deliver affordable, reliable and safe public transport across the country. Sinn Féin have committed to the Western Rail Corridor, which has the potential to re-vitalise western communities, provide alternative transport options for people and deliver much needed regional connectivity. It has been estimated if the line is reactivated 575,000 passengers could travel on it each year by 2030."
Responding to Deputy Dillon's call for support, An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD, told him: “This issue is currently under consideration in the context of the All-Island Rail review. I think the case for extending the Western Rail Corridor is stronger than it had been in the past, given the fact that the public finances are in a much better state, and we are able to increase capital spending, the need to meet our climate plans and also the high cost of fuel and the desire to get more freight off the roads and onto rail.”