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Ireland's old railways to become cycle routes

  • 22-07-2010 7:29pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 131 ✭✭ ForiegnNational


    Has anybody heard anything further about this piece of news from last year?
    Ireland's old railways to become cycle routes

    Government earmarks several for conversion to fuel tourism boom

    Stephen O'Brien

    The Irish government wants to fuel the boom in walking and cycling tourism by converting dozens of disused railway lines into cycle paths.
    Eamon Ó Cuív, the rural affairs minister, has invited communities living along the most scenic former rail routes, including the famous West Clare Railway, to convert them into tourist cycle paths using the annual €85m rural development fund.
    The West Clare line stretches 50 miles from Ennis around the Burren rock formation to Kilkee on the Atlantic coast and Kilrush on the Shannon estuary. It is typical of the type of route Ó Cuív believes could be surfaced and signposted as cycle paths.
    “We have so many spectacular, old, abandoned railway lines,” he said. “The two that come to mind are the one through the Barnesmore gap, and the one to Caherciveen from Farranfore in Co Kerry, which tracks half of the Ring of Kerry.”
    The number of walking tourists visiting Ireland surged from 168,000 in 2003 to 517,000 last year and Ó Cuív believes the influx can be increased further.
    He includes the old Westport-Achill Island railway line in Co Mayo, a long-abandoned Galway-Clifden route through Connemara, and sections of the old Limerick-Tralee line as suitable for conversion. The former Tralee-Dingle line is another that could be targeted by local rural development groups, as is the former line from Cork city through west Cork.
    Tony Boyd, chief executive of Iron Donkey, an Irish cycle tourism company, welcomed the minister’s suggestion. He said: “Old railway lines are perfect because the terrain is gradual and they are not accessible to traffic.
    “That is the sort of cycling that families are looking for because you can start with children as young as three or four.”
    Boyd added that Ireland’s scenery and reputation for friendliness already placed it in the top 10 cycle-touring destinations worldwide.
    Ó Cuív said most abandoned railway lines passed back into the hands of farmers and landowners decades ago and local Leader (rural development) groups would have to negotiate to secure rights.
    After a difficult start in establishing a national walks scheme, negotiation secured a series of hiking pathways and there are now 182 approved walks. In return for granting rights and agreeing to perform maintenance, farmers can get an annual fee from the state ranging from €725 to €1,900.



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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,229 ✭✭✭ Deedsie


    Sounds like a good idea to me anyway.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭ Nuttzz


    sounds good until you ger the tour de france wannabes on them


  • Registered Users Posts: 986 ✭✭✭ db


    I think this is a great idea and could build on the success of the looped walks. I already cycle with my kids on some of the walks nearby and it is great to have somewhere to go where there is no traffic. The only problem with the old railways is where the bridges they used no longer exist.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 611 T Corolla


    I hope they do the same with the clairemorris to collooney railway as its will never be a working railway in the next 100 yrs plus the fact that it is very beautiful landscape around it.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 611 T Corolla


    Is there any railway beds left in the cavan-monaghan region as it is a beautiful part of the country.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 252 ✭✭ newportlad


    i've seen evidence of this in my hometown of newport in county Mayo. an old railway line going Ar far as next town mulranagh has been converted and i have to say a great job has been done. very good quality fences and tracks and hopefully will bring many tourists to the area.


  • Registered Users Posts: 154 ✭✭ cmore123


    It was on TV tonight, Newport lad - RTE series "Tracks and Trails" RTE 1 at 7.30 pm next few Fridays. Diarmuid Gavin (celeb gardener) was presenting it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 183 ✭✭ ClareVisitor


    Great idea, it's an easy and relatively cheap way of promoting tourism. Having dedicated cycleways four cycling tourists which go near popular tourist destinations could provide a huge boost.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,013 ✭✭✭ Ole Rodrigo


    Great idea, it's an easy and relatively cheap way of promoting tourism. Having dedicated cycleways four cycling tourists which go near popular tourist destinations could provide a huge boost.

    And construction jobs too. The one in New York looks great.

    [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkEzQ0VV0AE&feature=related]


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,549 Judgement Day


    rocstar wrote: »
    And construction jobs too. The one in New York looks great.

    [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkEzQ0VV0AE&feature=related]

    Yes, yes but you're hardly comparing like with like. Former little used railways lines in the west of Ireland would become little used cycleways/walkways - let's just wait and see the figures for the Newport/Mulranny route before we rush to convert any more routes. The Tralee & Dingle route which some have suggested is largely along the main road - some walkway. ;)


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,013 ✭✭✭ Ole Rodrigo


    Yes, yes but you're hardly comparing like with like.

    True, but it illustrates the potential in the right places.
    Former little used railways lines in the west of Ireland would become little used cycleways/walkways

    Build it and they will come ?;)
    The Tralee & Dingle route which some have suggested is largely along the main road - some walkway. ;)

    I agree - showpiece !


  • Registered Users Posts: 154 ✭✭ cmore123


    J Day, I am glad to be able to report that the use of the Mulrany - Newport secyion has already surpassed local (and Mayo Council) expectations to the extent that further work is planned at the Achill and Westport end. The former Westport Quay railway line became a cycleway some years ago and is very well used. Granted, it is (a) in a town, (b) short, and (c) is the most direct way for pedestrians and cyclists from the Harbour area into town. However, if visitors numbers in the wilds of Bunnahowna area are up from estimates, that would suggest there is indeed further potential.

    Not every old railway line, obviously, is suited to be a path. The T & D would probably be a very good one, and the GSR Trail in Limerick / Kerry has been a success, but the fact that an abandoned railway exists does not in itself mean it will be any use as a cycleway. I would take the view, however, that the ones mentioned above by others are indeed worthwhile - as has been seen.


  • Registered Users Posts: 183 ✭✭ ClareVisitor


    Yes, yes but you're hardly comparing like with like. Former little used railways lines in the west of Ireland would become little used cycleways/walkways - let's just wait and see the figures for the Newport/Mulranny route before we rush to convert any more routes. The Tralee & Dingle route which some have suggested is largely along the main road - some walkway. ;)
    I haven't lived in Ireland for quite a few years, but it always surprised me just how many people were cycling round Ireland for their holidays, it's not exactly as flat as Holland! To build on this, dedicated cycleways are about the best thing I can think of, cycling on windy rural roads with locals flying along in cars can be pretty dangerous. This seems like something that could be marketed to cycling enthusiasts and grow this sector of the tourism market well.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 611 T Corolla


    I haven't lived in Ireland for quite a few years, but it always surprised me just how many people were cycling round Ireland for their holidays, it's not exactly as flat as Holland! To build on this, dedicated cycleways are about the best thing I can think of, cycling on windy rural roads with locals flying along in cars can be pretty dangerous. This seems like something that could be marketed to cycling enthusiasts and grow this sector of the tourism market well.

    I think this posts sums it all up as to the attractiveness of the cycleways. Here in Mullingar they extended the walkway along the canal by 4km and you could walk it anytime of day any you are bound to meet group of families out walking and groups of people out running on it and groups cycling. I hope Westmeath Co Council could get more money and extend it from the Dublin bridge to as far as it possible to go to make a decent cyclepath.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,436 ✭✭✭ RustyNut


    Yay :):):)


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,013 ✭✭✭ Ole Rodrigo


    I think an idea this good needs national funding and as little interference from county councils as possible.
    Just in case..


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,278 ✭✭✭ dowlingm


    Lifting the Foynes-Limerick tracks and paving the alignment could provide an express route for cyclists between Limerick station and Raheen and on to Patrickswell and Adare, and let's face it the likelihood of anything else happening there is approaching zero, notwithstanding this. However, there is also the issue of cyclists being able to use public transport to access these cycleways.


  • Registered Users Posts: 260 ✭✭ Poster King


    I think this is a great idea, I have seen some old railway lines in France that have been converted to cycleways and they get massive use. I am quite familiar with the Galway to Clifden line, having ridden most of it on horseback. Some of it could quite easily be converted, like the section between Ballinahinch and Clifden, while other parts have been converted to the N59 road. The N59 has been recently earmarked for improvements, and a cyclelane has been mentioned for inclusion along the side of the road.
    Maybe they could do a combination of converting parts of the old railway line, and where this is not possible or where it would be too expensive or where brides have been removed, they could add a cycle lane to the side of the N59.

    The Galway to Clifden line was said to be one of the most beautiful railway journeys in the world.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,579 ✭✭✭ jd


    I wonder would it be possible to do Bagnelstown->Killurin/Macmines..


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,093 ✭✭✭ hi5


    jd wrote: »
    I wonder would it be possible to do Bagnelstown->Killurin/Macmines..

    It would be great to cycle over the viaduct in Borris,need to put some railings up though!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/2cme/4295433502/


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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,281 ✭✭✭ westtip


    just look at Sustrans website to see what is possible - Every country in Europe has grasped this idea as a positive way of using old rail lines and protecting the alignments we have one or two good examples now in Ireland but the potential is huge, there are so many opportunities but as per usual we will contemplate our navels get a shed load of consultants on the idea produce a load of fancy worded documents in .pdf format for the Internet - to show that information is made public and all that cr*p, and basically the involvement of too many interested parties and agencies will mean this opportunity will pass us by. Its the usual story: P*ss up in a brewery could not be organised by a bunch of useless politicians and ineffective civil servants.


  • Registered Users Posts: 131 ✭✭ ForiegnNational


    I have found the National Cycle Policy Framework includes the following:
    we will support the provision of dedicated signed rural cycling networks building on Fáilte Ireland’s Strategy to Develop Irish Cycling Tourism. This will cater for recreational cyclists as well as visitors.
    Ireland currently does not have a National Cycle Network on the ground. However, Fáilte Ireland has produced its Strategy for the Development of Irish Cycle Tourism (Fáilte Ireland, 2007). This strategy identified an approximately 3000km long network running from Donegal along the West, South and South-east coasts and continuing along the East coast as far as the Northern Ireland border. While the main target market of the cycle tourism strategy is visitors – both overseas and domestic – the secondary target market is recreational cyclists. From the perspective of the National Cycle Policy Framework, encouraging recreational cycling is a key element of creating a cycling culture in Ireland and recreational routes in and around urban areas, which, in turn link to rural areas are very important.
    The network identified will mainly use a mix of minor roads, and some greenways. The greenways are especially important for, typically, the first 10km along the routes emanating from busy town centres which are heavily trafficked and particularly unattractive for inexperienced or very young cyclists. While the overall framework of the tourism network has been identified, there is more work to be carried out to identify further routes, particularly in the Midlands and particularly to use existing traffic free routes such as the canal and river tow paths. There is also further work to be carried out in identifying which sections of the extensive network of disused rail-lines would be most suitable to be converted to high quality, traffic-free routes suitable for cyclists of all ages and abilities.
    3.2 Expansion of NCN
    We will carry out further research and surveying work in order to expand the network to include rural recreational routes around urban areas and to connect major urban areas. We will pay special attention to the opportunities of using both the extensive disused rail network and canal / river tow-path networks as cycling / walking routes. In expanding the network, we will examine the recent UK experiences of the construction of their networks.
    But no specifics. Sustrans has a limited amount of information on routes (primarily in the north) here, but I know that at least two additional routes have opened or been upgraded in Cork (one along an old railway alignment), of which I find no mention.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,281 ✭✭✭ westtip


    When I said go to Sustrans website - it was merely to say if you want it done properly then this is the way to do it. We have no Sustrans in ROI - they have done stuff in NI but i know from the Belfast office of Sustrans they tear their hair out in respect of what could be done here - this whole ideaq has huge potential here - but when you have idiots like Dempsey in charge of transport we get what we deserve, plus the fact whilst it may seem like a simple idea to make an old track bed into a walkway/cycling trail it seems that about 40 vested interest parties (stakeholder is the sickening modern term) make an appearance and nothign gets done.

    I think a handful of regular writers on this forum could identify a national cycle network using old railways in about half a day, but that use of citezens abilities would be considered abhorrent by politicians and civil servants alike (two of the vested interest parties)


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,852 ✭✭✭ SeanW


    Props to Eamon O Cuiv, this is the first suggestion he's made that actually makes sense!

    First time for everything I guess.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,281 ✭✭✭ westtip


    SeanW wrote: »
    Props to Eamon O Cuiv, this is the first suggestion he's made that actually makes sense!

    First time for everything I guess.

    O'Cuiv suggested the idea of a greenway for Claremorris Collooney in May 2009 at a West on Track conference - I know cos he used two paragraphs from a letter I wrote to him in February 09 in his speech - I met him at the time and he really likes this idea - its writtent about at lenght on the wrc thread (the original thread). However nothing will be done about the idea cos our system is so incredibly inefficient and cos we don't have a heroic organisation like sustrans to champion the cause of walking and cycliing routes.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,549 Judgement Day


    westtip wrote: »
    O'Cuiv suggested the idea of a greenway for Claremorris Collooney in May 2009 at a West on Track conference - I know cos he used two paragraphs from a letter I wrote to him in February 09 in his speech - I met him at the time and he really likes this idea - its writtent about at lenght on the wrc thread (the original thread). However nothing will be done about the idea cos our system is so incredibly inefficient and cos we don't have a heroic organisation like sustrans to champion the cause of walking and cycliing routes.

    Thank goodness that we don't have an organisation like Sustrans or they would have all our railway lines turned into walkways! After all Dempsey's spinning yesterday my head is spinning too but I think I can still the light of the oncoming train on the Burma Road. Better put the ginger beer back in the fridge. :D


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,281 ✭✭✭ westtip


    Thank goodness that we don't have an organisation like Sustrans or they would have all our railway lines turned into walkways! After all Dempsey's spinning yesterday my head is spinning too but I think I can still the light of the oncoming train on the Burma Road. Better put the ginger beer back in the fridge. :D

    LOL very loudly. but honestly isn't Dempsey such a prize banker.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,281 ✭✭✭ westtip


    JD the letters page in the Irish Times (nothing to do with me this time) but I did enjoy this one:

    http://www.irishtimes.com/letters/
    Madam, – Having just spent a wonderful few hours on the excellent 18km cycleway on the old railway route between Newport and Mulranny, I’d like to say well done to Mayo Council Council and Mayo landowners on their collaborative effort. What a joy to ride through a beautiful brooding landscape without the fear or threat of being knocked down, yelled at or intimidated by car drivers. It’s perfect for all ages and has multiple benefits, not least of which is tackling childhood obesity in a safe environment.

    Why not repeat this success and tackle all the disused railway lines in the country – especially the old Galway-Clifden line? Can you imagine that cycleway? 78km of stress free cycling – what a boost to locals and tourists alike. Calling all county councils: what are you waiting for? – Yours, etc,

    HELEN MURRAY,

    Leas na Creige,

    Oughterard, Co Galway.

    Ms Murray you have said it all - but it has been said many times over, but good letter.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,549 Judgement Day


    So westtip - that's two of you who use the Greenway! :D Anyway, please tell me that it's not really a line of tarmac on the trackbed as I just had a look at this http://www.mayotoday.ie/2010/05/02/great-western-greenway-newport-mulranny/-4293? I wouldn't object to trackbeds being converted to footpaths but tarmac! This one on the Isle of Man is used by horses, walkers and cyclists and not tarmaced. http://www.visitisleofman.com/activities/events/mountainbiking/railwaylines.xml
    2905460728_a6bc6ed39b.jpg

    Lots more pics of the wonderful Isle of Man here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tasa_m/2905460728/in/photostream/ and a shameless plug for my latest blog here: http://missingmann.wordpress.com/


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,021 Sulmac


    I'm surprised none of you have posted this yet:
    Plan for 2,000km national cycle-path network unveiled

    OLIVIA KELLY

    Fri, Aug 20, 2010

    PLANS FOR a 2,000km national network of cycle paths connecting cities and major town across the Republic have been drafted by the National Roads Authority.

    Work on a detailed route for the first “interurban” cycle path from Dublin to Galway began recently and is due to be completed by the end of the year.

    The authority has mapped out 13 route “corridors” serving the cities of Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Galway, and almost 100 large towns which will make up the National Cycle Network.

    The routes pass through all of the 26 counties except Longford and vary in length from 52km (Drogheda to Trim) to 286km (Wexford to Tralee).

    Local authorities along the routes have identified almost 500km of potential off-road cycle routes, which are physically separated from the road by a grass verge or other barrier.

    The network will be made up of off-road cycleways; on-road cycleways, which are not shared with buses and taxis, and cycle trails or dedicated cycle paths, which are entirely separate from the road network, along canal tow paths or disused rail lines.

    Large parts of many inland and western counties are not served by one of the 13 route corridors. However, the roads authority said the route corridors were a “skeleton” around which the national network should develop. This could include “links and loops” between each of the corridors, as well as links to local rural and urban cycle routes to gradually allow all parts of the State to be served by cycle paths.

    In choosing the routes, the authority specified that they must connect the major cities and settlements with populations greater than 10,000 to attract the greatest number of users. The routes should be connected to public transport stops and have links to ports and airports. The network should facilitate commuter, leisure and tourism usage, and should connect to the National Cycling Network already developed in Northern Ireland.

    Each local authority will be responsible for developing their section of the network. Funding will be available through the National Sustainable Transport Office, which has been allocated €50 million for 2010 and 2011.

    A total cost for the network has yet to be quantified. However, the detailed plans for the Dublin to Galway corridor will identify how much each stage is likely to cost. The study of that route will involve detailed route selection, which will assess the potential for using parts of the Royal Canal towpath, abandoned railway lines and by-passed national roads, including the old N6. The study will also identify which types of cycle path will be used on each section of the route.

    Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey said he wanted to provide “world class” cycle routes. “I believe a Dublin to Galway cycle route is an exciting concept that would prove to be a major attraction.”

    © 2010 The Irish Times

    Sounds like a fantastic idea, and if done properly could bring huge benefits.

    I'd love to see a map of the planned routes.


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