Press Release from the West on Track Community Campaign, 10th October 2016
October 12, 2016
* Report highlights growing success of Western Rail Corridor
* Passenger numbers double in 2015
* Galway-Mayo rail link to be actively considered
The new Athenry to Ennis section (Phase One) of the Western Rail Corridor carried 102,000 passengers in 2015, more than double the numbers carried in 2014 and exceeded Iarnród Éireann’s forecasts in the original business case for the re-opening of the Galway to Limerick passenger train service. Overall, the Galway -Limerick route carried more than 300,000 passengers in 2015.
Research conducted by Cicero Communications, Galway, for West On Track, with the co-operation of Iarnród Éireann, finds that passenger numbers are far exceeding projections and that traffic on the Galway-Limerick route is growing at a faster rate than on any other route in the country.
The Cicero findings are further confirmed in the recent publication of the National Rail Census by the National Transport Authority which found 1147 journeys took place on the Galway-Limerick Rail service on Rail Census Day 2015. This compares very favourably with other routes such as the Dublin–Belfast Enterprise service and the new Clonsilla–Dunboyne railway which the NTA revealed, carried 902 and 625, respectively. If annualised this would bring total rail journeys between Galway and Limerick to in excess of 400,000.
Launching the report, the Minister for Regional Economic Development, Michael Ring TD, confirmed that the process of bringing a major plan together for an Atlantic Economic Corridor was well underway and that he hoped to be in a position to announce details of the plan by December. Minister Ring confirmed that the Mayo–Galway rail link, the next phase of the Western Rail Corridor was among the projects that would be actively considered. “Like everybody else in the west of Ireland I believe we have had enough reports. We now need to put infrastructure of all kinds into the west,” the minister said.
Seán Canny TD (Minister of State OPW) said that he was working closely with Minister Ring and other colleagues to ensure that the Atlantic Corridor becomes a reality. “The restoration of the Mayo-Galway rail link is a key part of that as far as I am concerned.” Minister Canney added that he was pleased to confirm that the TII was writing to Galway County Council to confirm that a new railway bridge is to be built at Ballyglunin as part of the works on the new M17 motorway.
A West on Track spokesperson said, “It is now time to acknowledge the success of Galway-Limerick rail services and move quickly to improving them further by renewing the Government commitment to complete Phase 2, linking Galway and Mayo. Iarnród Éireann’s projected passenger demand is 66% greater between Galway and Mayo than between Galway and Limerick.”
The event was attended by representatives of DFDS Logistics (rail hauliers) and Waterford Port. It is understood that Mayo rail freight to Waterford is to double this week with the addition of Baxter traffic. A recent study by the Western Development Commission identified a four-fold growth potential in Mayo rail freight traffic that currently stands at over 1,100 freight trains to and from Mayo annually. “The renewal of the Mayo–Galway railway will facilitate this potential growth and further boost passenger and tourism development on the west coast,” said the West on Track spokesman.