TRAINS will not run on the first phase of the Western Rail Corridor until at least December, even though work on the track is finished and the opening is already several months behind schedule.
Iarnród Éireann would not reveal the cause of the delay but confirmed that trains will not travel between Limerick and Galway until December.
“Initially we were told the line would be open in early summer. Then that was put back to late summer. Now Irish Rail has confirmed that it will be further delayed to December and that some of the machinery on the line has been switched for use on another route. The suspicion locally, however, is that the staff and trains needed to run the Western Rail Corridor are not forthcoming,” claimed Fine Gael Deputy Joe Carey.
The Clare TD called for clarification of the position regarding the opening of the Western Rail Corridor “as there are fears, following the publication of the McCarthy Report, that the project is being put on the long finger”.
Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley last month announced that Government funding had been made available for the development of Crusheen railway station, should an application be made by Iarnród Éireann and accepted by the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Eamon Ó Cuív TD.
However, when asked about any progress at the station, a spokesperson for the company stated that the building in Crusheen “is no longer owned by Iarnród Éireann”.
“A review of the reopening of Crusheen station and the costs associated with this, together with the possible sources of funding, is continuing,” they added.
Deputy Carey, however, is urging Iarnród Éireann to push ahead with the opening of the line saying that the West of Ireland has waited decades for proper rail links to be restored.
“West on Track states that over 100,000 people support the return of this vital transport link. The West needs a modern rail network. It is vital for attracting industry and tourism to this region and, following the recent Mid-West Taskforce report, it is no secret as to the pressure both of those sectors are currently experiencing,” he stated.
“The re-opening of the Cork to Middleton line has been a huge success and passenger take-up has been extremely high. The Ennis to Limerick line is another of the recent success stories for Irish Rail, in terms of passenger uptake and demand for service. I believe that, if marketed and promoted well, the Western Rail Corridor has the potential to be as commercially successful.
“The long term impact of having proper transport infrastructure for this region far outweighs any short term financial gains or savings,” Deputy Carey concluded.