An early Christmas present has come to the Sligo-Mayo Greenway Campaign as the minister for transport confirmed to them that he supports a greenway on the Western Railway Corridor.
The Western Railway Corridor is supposed to be fully in State ownership but farm and residential encroachment is evident at several level crossing junctions. A greenway on the route would “protect the integrity of the line” said Paschal Donohoe, minister for transport, tourism and sport.
“I would like to re-confirm my Department’s position that there are currently no plans to extend the Western Railway Corridor,” said the email from Donohoe.
The email from the minister added: “Furthermore, I would like to reiterate that it is the Department’s view that the construction of a greenway along the route of the disused rail line will protect the integrity of the line in the event of any possible future reopening of as an operational line.”
The route future of the route is a matter of contention, with railway campaigners dead set against a greenway.
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The disused railway route goes from Collooney in Co Sligo to Athenry in Co Galway, via Co Mayo.
The disused section goes to Tubbercurry, Charlestown, Swinford, Kiltimagh, Claremorris, Ballindine, Milltown, and Tuam. An extension could intersect with the planned Dublin to Galway greenway.
The Sligo-Mayo Greenway Campaign said the first phase of the reinstated railway, the Ennis to Athenry section completed in 2010, has “proved unsuccessful, attracting insufficient passenger numbers and suffers heavy losses, requiring significant annual subvention to cover operating costs.”
Brendan Quinn of the Sligo-Mayo greenway group said now that it has been confirmed that there are no plans to re-open the railway north of Athenry, Mayo and Galway county councils should act to protect the route by developing a greenway along the route.
Quinn said: “We now call on all councillors in Mayo, and Galway to follow the lead of Sligo County Council and develop plans for a greenway on the disused railway route. This project will create immediate jobs and opportunities in the region, and will protect the route for future generations.”
Image: Google Street View of where the route crosses the N17 near Claremorris