THE Velo-Rail project pioneered by Kiltimagh Tourism and IRD received a further major boost last week when Michael Ring TD, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, announced he has allocated a further €118,000 for the venture.
This is a direct follow-on from the allocation of €180,000 by Minister Ring for the project under the 2016 Rural Recreation Scheme.
The project is being developed on a stretch of the old railway line that runs from Claremorris to Collooney. It is planned to develop in the region of eight miles of the track, mainly on the Claremorris side of Kiltimagh (extending as far as Murneen) as well as a shorter stretch on the Swinford side and bring it fully up to safely standards. The last official trains ran on this line back in the 1970s.
Velo-Rail is an outdoor recreational activity using small rail mounted pedal propelled vehicles to move along a disused railway line. It basically features a small trolley cycling platform with two pedalling positions on it and a bench seat where friends or family members can sit at the back.
The velo-rail initiative has been pioneered with much success in parts of the French countryside where several railway lines had fallen into disuse or were abandoned. In Wales, the disused train line in Carmarthenshire was given a funding boost for what will be Britain’s first velo-rail venture.
Minister Ring, announcing the new funding, said: “I am delighted to be able to allocate a further €118,000 for this superb local tourism initiative. This will bring the Department’s total investment in the Velo Rail project to €298,000 and make it the highest supported project from a Local Authority under the 2016 scheme.”
Joe Kelly, manager of Kiltimagh IRD, and the groups affiliated behind this project, have also extended a warm welcome for the latest news. Preparation and clearance work has been on-going in recent months while it is also understood that major corrective work has been undertaken at the ‘Iron Bridge’ which carries the rail line over the Yellow River after its exit from the nearby Cuiltybo Lake.
Colman O’Raghallaigh from West-On-Track is also on board with the project. “We very much welcome Minister Ring’s support for this project and we are fully behind the Kiltimagh community in seeing it reach fruition. Their commitment to protecting the railway for the future, while using it for a rail purpose in the meantime, is an example of the positive thinking we have long associated with Kiltimagh, ” he said.