Members of the Ennis Municipal District are determined to preserve the rail link from Limerick to Galway.
In November of last year, a joint report released by Irish Rail and the National Transport Authority highlighted that several links were facing possible closure. The Ennis to Athenry line was included in this as it was found to be one of the fifteen least used networks.
Elected members of the EMD discussed the matter at their January sitting and received correspondence at its most recent meeting. Fine Gael Cllr Mary Howard sought assurances from Irish Rail that the rail service north of Ennis would continue. “It is important we flag it and are aware of possibility of losing the line”.
Ann Norton stated that several students from Co Clare were travelling via train to university due to the high cost of student accommodation. The Mayor of Ennis acknowledged that the rail-line was “a gateway to the west and the Wild Atlantic Way”. She said the importance of the route must be stressed to Irish Rail.
Fianna Fáil’s Pat Daly commented that millions has been spent on the Western Rail Corridor. “Irish Rail have done nothing whatsoever in Newmarket-on-Fergus”, Daly said referring to the closure of the Ballycar line for one hundred and forty days last year due to ongoing flood problems.
“It is important we make it clear that 117,000 Clare people pay taxes” Cllr Johnny Flynn stated. “Clare is not treaty fairly”, he added. The Fine Gael Councillor asked a letter be sent requesting a guaranteeing of the future of the rail-line north and south of Ennis. He called for €10 million to be allocated to sort the flooding at Ballycar and declared “We will have a huge bill if we don’t get more transport via rail”.
Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy was determined that they must speak loudly to maintain the route. “We must ensure our voice is heard and absolutely roar very loudly about this”. She expressed her concern with the so-called balanced regional development and spoke of Clare being on the periphery between Limerick and Galway. Colleran Molloy felt she and all members of the EMD would be letting down the people of the County if the service was removed.
In thanking fellow councillors for their support, Mary Howard was determined they would be successful in ensuring the Ennis to Athenry line was preserved, “it’s not going to happen on our watch”, she said of the possible removal.
A letter sent to members of the EMD subsequent to the meeting has been obtained by The Clare Herald. In it, David Franks, Chief Executive of Irish Rail writes “A recent report in relation to the future of the Railways in Ireland has been published and the National Transport Authority is conducting a public consultation in regard to this report, which closed last week. All correspondence received will be considered following this review and I have passed a copy of your correspondence to the National Transport Authority for their information”.