Chase EU grant aid for Western rail link says Bree
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.