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Minister’s reply gives fresh hopes for greenway on old railway line

A senior government minister has given fresh hopes that a walking and cycling greenway will be provided from Athenry, through Tuam and onto Claremorris adjacent to the disused railway line.

In a response to Galway East TD Ciaran Cannon (pictured), Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan said that discussions are taking place with Irish Rail with this in mind.

And the Transport Minister confirmed that once discussions with Irish Rail have been completed, a ‘substantive decision’ is then expected during the course of 2024.

According to Deputy Cannon, this is a very positive step and added that there is now a possibility to develop a greenway either on or adjacent to the existing line and then reconfigure the design when a rail service comes on stream.

In correspondence with the Fine Gael TD, Minister Ryan acknowledges that the draft All Island Rail Review recommends the reinstatement of the line from Athenry to Claremorris.

“The proposed re-instatement of the rail line from Athenry to Claremorris does not necessarily prevent the development of a greenway along this section of rail corridor,” he said.

“However, the feasibility of providing a greenway adjacent to the rail line needs to be assessed at a project level in consultation with key stakeholders, including Irish Rail.

“Initial discussions with Irish Rail have taken place and a substantive decision is expected in 2024,” he added.

Importantly, he adds that there is no current rail reinstatement proposals from Claremorris to Collooney in County Sligo which would join the main Dublin to Sligo line.

The issue of greenway versus rail has been somewhat divisive in recent years but Deputy Cannon believes that there is room for both, and the worst possible scenario is to ‘do nothing’.

“The ideal outcome for our local towns would be to have both a passenger rail service and a greenway,” said the Fine Gael TD.

“Right now, we have nothing but a decaying piece of public infrastructure that serves none of our needs or ambitions for East Galway.

“The All-Island Rail Review contains an aspiration to reopen a rail freight service only, at some point in the future, with no budget and no timeline for this investment.

“I and the 26,000 people who signed a petition seeking the development of a greenway along this line are deeply concerned that for the next 20 years we will end up with nothing, neither a rail service nor a greenway

“So it’s very encouraging to hear from Minister Ryan that he’s keeping all options open. This is the sensible approach and one that can serve many of our local needs,” added Deputy Cannon.

This year alone, more than €2.3 million has been allocated to Mayo County Council for the development of greenways and the enhancement of existing walking and cycling facilities.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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