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Taoiseach gives tentative support to Western Rail Corridor


Edwin McGreal

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has signalled that he will support the extension of the Western Rail Corridor to Tuam and Claremorris if a review of the service is favourable.
In a personal letter to Deputy Seán Canney, the Taoiseach said the extension of the Western Rail Corridor from Athenry to Tuam and Claremorris could play an important role in the Atlantic Economic Corridor.
He said if a review currently underway at the behest of Minister for Transport Shane Ross is favourable, then the Western Rail Corridor is a project which will be prioritised.
“The extension of the Western Rail Corridor (to Tuam and Claremorris) could increase passenger, tourist and commercial use,” wrote the Taoiseach.
Deputy Canney welcomed the news.
“The review of the Western Rail Corridor has commenced and we should know in a matter of months if it is viable. If it is, then the Taoiseach has given a commitment to make it a priority,” Deputy Canney pointed out.
He also criticised Galway East constituency colleagues Ciarán Cannon (Fine Gael) and Anne Rabbitte (Fianna Fáil), who are supporting calls for the closed railway north of Athenry to be turned into a greenway. Deputy Canney accused them of ‘speaking out of both sides of their mouths’.
“At local level they are rubbishing the rail review and yet this same rail review is part of the Programme for Government and the National Development Plan which they are both supporting. They have just jumped on a [greenway] bandwagon,” he told The Connacht Tribune.
Earlier this month passenger numbers released for the Galway to Limerick Western Rail Corridor route for 2017 showed an increase of 57 percent from 2011 to 352,706.