23
Mon, Sep
3 New Articles

Your chance to help make Western Rail Corridor a reality

De Facto

Irish Rail asks people to complete ten-minute online survey

De Facto
Liamy MacNally

A task that will take no more than ten minutes could have a huge positive impact on the environment and benefit people you know. Simply complete a survey and write a note to Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) in support of reopening the Western Rail Corridor (WRC).
With all the talk of climate change and concern for the environment, many of us feel a little bewildered by what exactly we can do to help. Sometimes it is easier to sit back and continue what we’re doing because we don’t feel directly affected by things that are happening. With Irish Rail seeking submissions on the viability of reopening the WRC from Athenry to Tuam and onwards to Claremorris, we now have a chance to make a difference.
Westport is fairly well served by the railway service to Dublin. While acknowledging that there are still issues with the service, over the years it has improved with up to five weekday trains available.
The Western Rail Corridor runs from Sligo to Limerick. Only those of a certain age have experience of the Western Rail Corridor. Those who have ‘graced the grey’ will have some fading memories of a railway service ‘down along the western counties.’
Writing this note to Irish Rail will make a difference. ‘The railway is the true greenway’ was a headline in last week’s Mayo News. The article, written by An tAthair Micheál MacGréil, stated: “The train, in fact, is the most climate-friendly means of freight and passenger travel.” From an environmental point of view and from a practical position, everyone in this area can make a meaningful contribution that will help positively with concerns over climate change.
The extension of the Western Rail Corridor from Athenry to Claremorris is currently under review by the Government, and submissions from the public are being sought. The service would have positive impacts beyond its route, for places such as Castlebar and Westport, as well as the hinterlands of Louisburgh, Newport and Achill, enabling passengers to travel from and to the south without first having to head to Athlone.
Reopening the WRC (or rather extending it, as it already operates from Limerick to Galway) is the right thing to do from every perspective – the environment, tourism, education, business, leisure and plain-old common sense. While it would undoubtedly revitalise the Wild Atlantic Way, it would benefit more than tourists: It would also benefit Mayo people working in Galway and beyond, as well as Mayo students studying in Galway and Limerick, making for greater social inclusion for rural communities.
The line can also be used to carry freight. Imagine, freight from Mayo has to go cross-country before it can travel south. Timber from the west bound for Waterford has to take the scenic route eastwards, wait its turn before given the all clear to turn south. A route from Westport to Claremorris, Tuam, Athenry, Limerick and over to Waterford would be much easier. The railway line is there. It just has to be reopened.
Irish Rail is hosting the public consultation on the redevelopment of the Mayo-Galway Railway. Jim Meade, Chief Executive, Iarnród Éireann said, “We would encourage all those who are interested in this issue, regardless of point of view, to participate in the consultation to give us a comprehensive understanding of opinions on these proposals.”
The purpose of the appraisal is to establish if the proposed extension from Athenry to Tuam (phase 2) and from Tuam to Claremorris (phase 3) represents value for money to the Irish public. An online survey will allow members of the public and interested organisations to express their views. The survey is available for another two weeks, until July 17 at www.irishrail.ie/news/wrc-consultation.
The ten-minute online survey asks participants for their views on current transport usage and services, the potential benefits and negative impacts of the WRC, and the extension of the WRCorridor to phase 2 and 3. It also asks for any other comments or observations.
People are also encouraged to write a note in support of extending the WRC to wrc@ie.ey.com. The report will be presented, including findings and recommendations, to Iarnród Éireann and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport by September 30, 2019.
It is a great opportunity to take part and use your voice.

MORE To complete the survey visit www.irishrail.ie/news/wrc-consultation before July 17.