Comin’ down the line for Western Rail Corridor — a review to see how best to proceed

It’s emerged there’s just one certainty about the government’s approach to the Western Rail Corridor following the publication of the National Development Plan — and that’s that another review of the project is to be undertaken to see how best it can be progressed.

Following publication of the Plan this week, there was widespread criticism throughout the west over what appeared to be the absence of any firm commitment, timeline or financial allocation to progress the project.

The National Development Plan stated that the Western Rail Corridor has the potential to revitalise the west of Ireland and that a recently-launched Strategic Rail Review will examine how it would be delivered.

However, the WRC, running from Limerick via Ennis to Athenry and from Claremorris to Collooney and Sligo, is already one of the most examined projects in the country.

Despite widespread criticism following the publication of the National Development Plan, the campaign group West on Track issued a statement pointing out that Taoiseach Micheál Martin had expressed his strong support for the further development of the Western Rail Corridor..

It also pointed out that Transport Minister Eamonn Ryan outlined what he described as the “transformation of the west of Ireland”, with the development of the underutilised rail line.

Although the National Development Plan contains no specific commitment on the WRC, this is what Minister Ryan and the Taoiseach had to say.


Welcoming the comments of the Taoiseach and the Minister, a West on Track spokesman said it was important that both leaders had been unequivocal in clarifying the situation as the initial NDP text had led many people believing the rail link was being sidelined.

He said subsequent clarification indicated the project will proceed and that the Strategic Rail Review is being asked to recommend how best this should happen.

However, the West on Track spokesman also said it cannot continue to exist on fine words, adding that it now needed to see the rail review delivered on time next year so that work can get underway without further delay.