Fine Gael Cllr Patsy O’Brien this week has dismissed claims that rather than opening up the Claremorris to Colloney section of the Western Rail Corridor it should be opened as a greenway walk and cycle route.
“There has recently been some talk of taking over the section from Claremorris to Colloney and converting it into a greenway and suggestions that this would represent a better option than bringing it back into use as a major piece of national infrastructure, but I believe it would be a major mistake”, said the councillor.
While he recognises that the Newport to Achill greenway has been an outstanding success, O’Brien believes that it it’s a completely different proposition to the Claremorris to Colloney line. “We all welcome the success of the new greenway from Newport to Achill where the route of the former railway, which was closed and taken up in the 1930s, has become a popular walking and cycling path. However, there is one major difference between that project and the northern section of the Western Rail Corridor from Claremorris to Colloney, and that is the fact that this particular railway still exists, and offers the possibility of being reopened as a rail route in the medium term.”
O’Brien also dismissed the suggestion that a greenway could be opened along the route and keep the rail line protected alongside it. He said, “It has been suggested that the railway could be protected and a greenway run alongside it, but speaking of as a railway man, with long years of experience in such matters, I can tell you the alignment from Claremorris to Colloney is very different and that large sections of it would be completely unsuitable for such a scheme. The truth of the matter is that the only viable way of establishing a greenway on that route would be to lift the railway and run it along the actual permanent way.”
The Claremorris area councillor went on to call for people to look at the medium to long tern rather than the short term. “While the re-opening of the Claremorris-Colloney section of the Western Rail Corridor may not appear imminent, we must not allow a sense of short tern gain and ‘ad-hocery’ to take from the fact that the circumstances could change very rapidly.”