How is it that the only commitment to a named rail project in the Fine Gael election manifesto is to the Western Rail Corridor?Before we mistakenly chase off down the ‘balanced regional development’ discussion, let us firstly recall that what we are talking about is reinstating a service that will be slower than road. Hence, we don’t even need to get into how if people in Mayo really want rail they’d want to stop building those one-off houses.Extract from page 81 Western Rail Corridor
• Fine Gael will support the reopening of the line from Ennis to Sligo and will re-open the WRC as far as Claremorris, during our first term in Government and instigate a Railway Order to Coolooney.
This project thrives on misinformation and the knee-jerk reaction of people in the West to support anything with ‘West’ in the title. But it just doesn’t do what it says on the tin. There’s a lengthy feature on the project in the Farmers Journal which fails to get to the nub of the issue. Take this pointLeaving aside the absurdity of moving to a rural area to get a cheaper and bigger house and only then noticing the need to commute 88 miles (well, duh). The implicit suggestion is that the WRC can do something for this woman. However, when you look at the timetable of the proposed service you actually find the journey time from Claremorris to Galway will be one hour and fifteen minutes, or longer than by car – without taking into account journey time to and from the stations at both ends.When Ann Melia moved from Dublin to Claremorris, Co Mayo, in 1999, she hoped to find a better quality of life in rural Ireland. However, with a gruelling 88-mile daily drive to work in Galway City, the mother of two says "the jury is out". And all because of the lack of a commuter rail service in the west.
"When you travel 440 miles a week, there isn't much left of you," she explained. "In 1999, I'd leave Claremorris at 7.30am and be in Galway for 8.20am. My journey now takes me one hour and 10 minutes. I leave the house at 6.30am and I'm now waking up at 5.15am every morning. Am I going to have to get up at 4.15am next? It's absurd."
Also, as the rail line is single track, there will only be three services in each direction per day. So a Claremorris commuter would only have one train in each direction that potentially suits. a departure at 7:35am that arrives in Galway at 8:50am and a solitary evening departure from Galway at 17:25pm (which gets back to Claremorris at 18:39pm).
Hence, clearly the WRC is a joke.
What's wrong with just admitting the WRC is a bad idea and a waste of money? How does the West gain by piling money into a big heap and setting fire to it? How are our Kyoto commitments helped by burning diesel to send empty rail cars about? How are commuters helped by an infrequent service that takes longer to get them where they need to go? Why the need to give it special mention in a manifesto, where more substantial projects that would actually bring benefits are bundled together into a meaningless and vaguely positive statement that commits to nothing?