Extending the Western Rail Corridor from Athenry to Claremorris and beyond would be a ‘key’ piece of infrastructure along the Atlantic Economic Corridor.
That’s according to Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, who helped to establish the Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC).
Stretching all along the western seaboard, the AEC aims to encourage the growth of the western region.
The Western Rail Corridor, which used to run from Sligo to Limerick until it was closed in the 1970s, has since been reopened from Limerick to Athenry.
The extension of it to Tuam and onto Claremorris – where it would connect with the Dublin-Westport line – is subject to a current Government-backed review, the results of which have yet to be published.
“Seán Canney (Minister for State at Minister Ring’s department) and myself got (Minister for Finance) Paschal Donohue to have it assessed and that report is done and will be published.
“There is now talk of a railway from Sligo to Derry. Firstly I think the Western Rail Corridor would be a great help to the west. I set up the Atlantic Economic Corridor and Seán Canney has been the minister responsible for it.
“We’ve committed to the Atlantic Economic Corridor and with the economy now improving, I would support the railway as being a big addition to the Atlantic Economic Corridor. We are waiting for the report which should be released one of these days by (Minister for Transport) Shane Ross,” he said.
There has been a counter campaign for the route to be used as a greenway which has attracted support also. However, Michael Ring said the rail corridor should be the priority.
“There is a counter campaign for a greenway along the route. There is no better supporter of greenways than me but I think the Western Rail Corridor would be a key piece of infrastructure along the Atlantic Economic Corridor and would be so good for tourism as well,” he said.
In a survey of the 15 candidates standing in Saturday’s General Election on local issues, all candidates have spoken in favour of extending the Western Rail Corridor from Athenry to Tuam and Claremorris and beyond.