These people have some interesting ideas - they are going to run the railway themselves and Irish Rail won;t be involved. Similar to how regional railways are run in Europe. A co-op. One more nail in the CIE coffin. It's great see Irish peple waking up to the fact that the railways belong to the Irish people and no CIE management and unions. Very exciting development:
Campaign to reopen rail line gains momentum
By Chris Ashmore
The biggest campaign to reopen a railway line in Ireland is under way. In the past three weeks, more than 30,000 people have signed a petition calling for the "Western Rail Corridor" from Sligo to Limerick to be reopened.
The West-on-Track campaign has caught the imagination of people living along the route with local authorities, chambers of commerce, trade unions and development groups from over 20 towns supporting it.
Since the campaign was launched last month, hundreds of signs have been erected along the N17 Sligo-Galway road with slogans like "Give us back our railway" and "Relieve the East - Revive the West." More than 5,000 posters have been distributed to retail outlets and businesses and 10,000 car stickers handed out, while 15,000 postcards addressed to the Minister for Transport have been printed.
Although 31 miles of the route - at the northern and southern ends - are part of already operational lines, some 114 miles in between are currently disused. The section from Collooney in Co Sligo to Claremorris, Co Mayo, was shut in 1975 and that from Claremorris to Athenry and on to Ennis in 2001. Much of the line is overgrown.
However, thanks largely to the efforts of Fr Micheál Mac Gréil, who has campaigned tirelessly for reopening the line, the track was not lifted and every mile is still in public ownership.
In the Strategic Rail Review (SRR) published earlier this year, the cost of renewing the Sligo-Limerick line, including tracks, stations, signalling and level crossings, was put at €572 million.
But that figure is disputed by Mr Frank Dawson, Galway County Council's director of services, who has carried out an extensive analysis of the line's potential. He maintains it could be reopened for €215 million.
"The total capital cost of the Western Rail Corridor is overstated by €327million (266 per cent). An error of this magnitude simply cannot go unchecked," he said.
Mr Dawson added that just 15 diesel railcar units on 60 m.p.h. track, rather than 72 locomotive hauled carriages on 80 m.p.h. track as the SRR budgeted for, would enable a comprehensive cross-radial service to be operated as well as commuter services for Limerick, Sligo and especially Galway, which could have new suburban halts at Oranmore and Renmore.
He claims that the track could be upgraded at a cost of €825,000 per mile rather than the €2.4 million per mile quoted in the SRR.
"It seems illogical that here we have an asset which is not being utilised. It could be open in six months if the green light was given. People are bursting to get the train," notes Colman Ó Raghallaigh, a member of the West-on-Track campaign steering group.
He stresses that changing lifestyles and demographic changes make the line far more viable now than when it lost its passenger services. The need for more balanced regional development and the provision of better public transport in rural Ireland have struck a chord with communities along the route.
© The Irish Times