Taoiseach may back rail link reopening

A section of the old railway line near Tuam.
A section of the old railway line near Tuam.

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has put his full weight behind reviving a train service along the Western Rail Corridor from Athenry through Tuam and on to Claremorris.

Mr Varadkar has written a letter saying that if the review into restoring a rail service between Athenry and Tuam makes a positive recommendation, then it is a project that will be prioritised and advanced.

In a personal letter to Deputy Sean Canney, the Taoiseach said that the extension of the Western Rail Corridor to Tuam could play an important role in the Atlantic Economic Corridor.

He said: “The extension of the Western Rail Corridor (to Tuam and Claremorris) could increase passenger, tourist and commercial use”.

The case for the line reopening received an indirect boost this week with the news that passenger numbers on the Galway-Limerick route have doubled to 350,000 in eight years. In recent weeks, the focus of attention has been firmly on the provision of a greenway along the disused railway line between Athenry, Tuam, Claremorris and northwards towards Sligo.

But this intervention by An Taoiseach has changed the fabric of this campaign completely. It shows that Mr Varadkar would be a supporter of an extension of the rail corridor. He made no reference to a greenway in his letter.

Galway East TDs Ciaran Cannon (FG) and Anne Rabbitte (FF) were this week called hypocrites by Deputy Canney and accused 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.

“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.

■ For more on this story, see the print edition of the Connacht Tribune.

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