Senator Rose Conway-Walsh has stressed the importance of transport connectivity to the rural economy. Her remarks came this week in response to a report that Iarnród Éireann may soon be insolvent.
“Today, we see the report that indicates that Irish Rail is facing insolvency and that rural routes may have to be cut if Iarnród Éireann does not get an extra €103 million a year over the next five years," the Sinn Féin senator from Mayo said in the Seanad this week. "And that is just to stay solvent. That does not include the necessary investment to address the neglect and failure of successive governments in our rail links.
“How do you expect to increase passenger numbers when the rail links are not tailored to meet the needs of the relevant population?" she asked.
“The report suggests the Ennis to Athenry line, which was opened in 2010, might be a target for closure. Yet this section of the Western Rail Corridor carried 102,000 passengers in 2015, more than double the numbers carried in 2014 and exceeding Iarnród Éireann forecasts in the original business case for the re-opening of the Galway to Limerick passenger train service.
“The Programme for Government provides for an independent costing and review of the Western Rail Corridor Phase Two between Athenry and Claremorris for passenger and freight use, and explicitly states that no measures will be taken to prevent the future reactivation of this corridor for rail use as set out in the McCann Report.
“The millions spent on advertising the Wild Atlantic Way must be backed up by substantial investment in infrastructure including rail links.”