Naughten questions commitment to Western Rail Corridor

Irish Rail is not committed to re-opening the Western Rail Corridor, according to Denis Naughten.             During a presentation by Dr. John Lynch, Chairman of CIE, it was stated that Irish Rail is only considering the feasibility of reopening part of the line between Athenry and Tuam, with no mention of the line from Tuam north via Claremorris to Colloney.             ‘Furthermore, the status of the Athenry-Tuam section has been downgraded, which clearly contradicts previous Government commitments. It now has a similar status to the Athlone-Mullingar rail line, which has yet to receive any favourable approval from Government.’   In a Dáil response to Denis Naughten last week, the Minister for Transport, Martin Cullen, indicated that his Department is currently considering a report on the possible re-opening of the Athlone to Mullingar rail line, but gave no indication that this would ever happen.             Councillor Michael McGreal, who saw the presentation made by Dr. John Lynch at the conference in Croke Park, said that ‘it is clear that the Government is trying to hoodwink the people of the West of Ireland, saying one thing in public but then failing to put the steps in place to deliver on its commitment.’             Responding to Denis Naughten’s question on the phased re-opening of the Western Rail Corridor, Minister Cullen said that the Athenry to Tuam section would be completed in 2011. This clearly contradicts the view expressed by Dr. John Lynch that Irish Rail is still only examining the feasibility of reopening this line at all.             Deputy Naughten said ‘It is unacceptable that the West of Ireland does not have a proper, operational rail infrastructure, and the lack of commitment by Irish Rail to progressing with this project shows a complete disregard for the development of services in the West.’