Chase EU grant aid for Western rail link says Bree

The Sligo Champion - - NEWS -

THE de­ci­sion by the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment to in­clude the Western Rail Cor­ri­dor as a pri­or­ity trans­port link in the Con­nect­ing Europe Fa­cil­ity (CEF) Pro­gramme has been wel­comed by Coun­cil­lor De­clan Bree.

“The CEF pro­gramme, which pro­vides for EU fund­ing for trans­port and energy projects will al­low the gov­ern­ment to draw down E.U. fund­ing for the phased re-open­ing of the Sligo to Gal­way Western Rail Cor­ri­dor and the even­tual de­vel­op­ment of a rail link con­nect­ing Sligo with Derry.” Cllr Bree said.

“Thanks are due to our M.E.P.’s and in par­tic­u­lar to Matt Carthy M.E.P. of Sinn Fein, for tak­ing the nec­es­sary steps to en­sure that the Western Rail Cor­ri­dor is now des­ig­nated as a pri­or­ity trans­port link.

“Ear­lier this year the Gov­ern­ments new Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan – which out­lines a €116 bil­lion spend­ing pro­gramme over the next decade – stated that phase II and III of the of the Western Rail Cor­ri­dor could play an im­por­tant role in the At­lantic Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor.

“The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment’s de­ci­sion this week clearly in­di­cates the E.U’s recog­ni­tion of the strate­gic im­por­tance of the Western Rail Cor­ri­dor and au­gurs well for the fu­ture.

“Rail­ways can play a very sig­nif­i­cant part in strate­gic plan­ning and an over­haul of our rail ser­vice is long over­due.

“In­vest­ment in high-speed rail­way lines for long-dis­tance pas­sen­ger ser­vice, de­liv­ers safety, com­fort and op­ti­mum con­nec­tiv­ity.

“For ex­am­ple, by com­plet­ing and up­grad­ing the Western Rail Cor­ri­dor from Lim­er­ick to Sligo, a jour­ney time of less than 2 hours is a re­al­is­tic tar­get.

“At present, pub­lic trans­port op­tions take over 4 hours, which does noth­ing to en­tice peo­ple from their cars.

“Sim­i­lar up­grad­ing of ra­dial routes to or from Dublin for higher speeds, could de­liver jour­ney times of 90 min­utes or less from Sligo, Gal­way or Lim­er­ick

“In ad­di­tion the even­tual elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of the rail ser­vice will al­low for a ma­jor re­duc­tion in Ire­land’s car­bon emis­sions.

“The Re­gional Plan­ning Guide­lines of the Mid West, West and Border Re­gions have con­sis­tently and col­lec­tively called for the pro­vi­sion of in­ter-city pas­sen­ger and freight ser­vices on the Western Rail Cor­ri­dor be­tween Lim­er­ick and Sligo.

“How­ever, those Guide­lines have been ignored and we all know that Dublin’s growth has been al­lowed to spi­ral out of con­trol while to­ken ges­tures at bal­anced re­gional de­vel­op­ment has left our cap­i­tal city burst­ing at the seams.

“If Gov­ern­ment se­ri­ously wants to achieve bal­anced re­gional de­vel­op­ment, it needs to fa­cil­i­tate it hap­pen­ing by in­vest­ing in our rail in­fra­struc­ture.

“Now that the Western Rail Cor­ri­dor has been in­cluded in the Euro­pean Union’s C.E.F. pro­gramme the gov­ern­ment needs to seize the op­por­tu­nity of draw­ing down E.U. grant aid to as­sist in fund­ing the phased re-open­ing of the Sligo to Gal­way line.” said Cllr Bree.

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