May 11, 2023
MacManus criticises Minister Ryan’s lack of commitment to Western Rail Corridor

MacManus criticises Minister Ryan’s lack of commitment to Western Rail Corridor 

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has criticised comments made by Minister Eamon Ryan regarding the Western Rail Corridor at a recent meeting of Sligo County Council. The Minister said that there will be no new railway line north of Claremorris in the medium term. The Midlands Northwest MEP argues that while reopening of the Western Rail Corridor from Athenry to Claremorris would be a welcome first step, it’s common sense both economically and regionally, that the  line must eventually be extended on to Sligo.

MEP MacManus said:

“Comments made by Minister Eamon Ryan at a recent meeting with members of Sligo County Council, that there will be no new railway line north of Claremorris in the medium term, are extremely disappointing.

“It has been widely reported that the All-island Rail Review, which is yet to be published, has recommended the reopening of the Athenry-Claremorris section of the Western Rail Corridor.

“This would be a welcome first step, but if we are to realise the full potential of the Western Rail Corridor it is imperative that the line is eventually extended to Collooney. This would ensure that Sligo has connectivity to the rest of Connacht and every key population centre on the island by rail. It would also allow for a spur to Knock Airport, which can play a crucial role in it’s development as a major transport hub.

“There is significant demand for rail services in Sligo and a large number of workers, students and day-trippers travelling to Galway, Mayo and south Sligo on a regular basis. It would not make any sense to develop the Western Rail Corridor as far as Claremorris and not finish the job by eventually extending the line on the Sligo. Contrary to what Minister Ryan says, this absolutely is viable in the medium term.

“Minister Ryan also pledged his support for the development of a greenway from Collooney to Claremorris. It must be clarified whether this greenway will be developed on or alongside the disused rail line.

“Developing a greenway on the railway line would make it very difficult for the line to again be used for rail transport. Once you open a recreational amenity for the local community it is challenging to take it back for a variety of reasons. The most sensible solution is to construct a greenway alongside the rail line or in an alternative location. 

“The benefits of the Western Rail Corridor, in terms of delivering economic development and reducing emissions by enabling more people to travel sustainably, are well known. It would be unacceptable if Sligo were to miss out on this. It shows a disappointing lack of ambition for the north-west from Minister Ryan, an attitude which bizarrely seems to be supported by some local Councillors in Sligo.

“Myself and my Sinn Féin colleagues will continue to advocate for the entire Western Rail Corridor and fairness for Sligo and the north-west. ENDS 

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