Call for survey on rail use as greenway row flares up again

The old railway station in Tuam which Cllr Cunniffe wants to be part of a greenway. Photo: Johnny Ryan Photography.

A call has been made for a survey to be conducted across the West of Ireland to determine if there is a demand for the Western Rail Corridor to be reopened for the purposes of carrying freight.

The ongoing row over the provision of a greenway along the route of the Western Rail Corridor again erupted at a meeting of Galway County Council this week.

There have been two motions before Galway County Council over the past year asking that funding be sought for a feasibility study into the provision of a greenway from Athenry to Tuam and on to Claremorris.

On the first occasion the motion from Cllr Shaun Cunniffe from Tuam was defeated and when it was put to councillors on a second occasion, it was deferred pending the publication of a rail review by Iarnród Éireann.

The decision to defer the motion came as a result of an amendment tabled by Cllr Billy Connelly who is strongly opposed to a greenway along the Western Rail Corridor. Cllr Connelly was co-opted onto Galway County Council in place of the now TD Sean Canney who is vehemently opposed to the line being used for such recreational purposes.

Cllr Cunniffe wanted to know which rail review Cllr Connelly was referring to. He asked if it was the national rail review or the review into the Western Rail Corridor.

In response, Cllr Connelly said that he was only referring to the national rail review and could not understand why there would be any confusion. He understood from Deputy Canney that it would be completed by the end of the year. “There is so much rubbish going on about this,” he added.

Cllr Cunniffe said that he wants a greenway included as part of a plan for Galway going into 2040 and he could see no demand for freight along the Western Rail Corridor.

“I know of no company that wants such a facility and I think that we should conduct a survey to determine its potential use in this regard,” he suggested.

He said that, in any event, the greenway would not impact on the rail corridor as the Tuam-Athenry Greenway Campaign were advocating a dual alignment. “The greenway would be one side and the rail track the other with a good space between them”, he added.

Cllr Jimmy McClearn said that it was not national policy to run a greenway alongside a railway track and that prompted a heated exchange between both councillors.

Tuam’s Cllr Karey McHugh said that thousands of people in Tuam had walked and signed a petition for a greenway along this State-owned corridor.

“Our health policy dates back to the ‘40s; our transport policy goes back to the ‘20s and if we were to take heed of all of these policies then there would be no progress whatsoever in Tuam,” Cllr McHugh added.