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Unread 18-09-2006, 09:15   #1
Donal Quinn
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Default M*cheál Mac Gréil opinion piece

read this for waffle
[my comments in [] ]

Government thinking on railways now on right track

The reopening of the Western Rail Corridor from Limerick to Sligo would be a victory for common sense and democracy, writes M*cheál Mac Gréil, SJ.

Recent indications point to Cabinet approval for the phased restoration of the Western Rail Corridor (WRC) from Limerick/Ennis to Collooney/Sligo. This is a major victory for common sense and democracy, which grants a modicum of fair play to the west of Ireland and is a concrete example of balanced regional development.

This rail corridor will link Sligo to the major towns and cities of the west, midwest, southwest and south of Ireland, as well as connecting all the radial mainline railways in and out of Dublin (apart from the Dublin-Belfast line).

From a social and economic perspective the reopening of the railway from Ennis to Collooney will involve the provision of a major piece of transport infrastructure. By generating development and facilitating commuters and regular travellers, it will be both "front-loading" infrastructure and responding to growing "critical mass". [what about providing infrastructure where the critical mass already exists]

The WRC has significant freight potential, particularly in relation to timber and export-import liner trains from the west and northwest to the major seaport of Waterford. The line also links the three international airports of Ireland-West Knock, Shannon and Cork. [linking airports - why?]

When the environmental benefits of the greater use of railways are added to the points already mentioned, the wisdom of the Government's decision (supported by the Opposition parties) becomes crystal clear to any objective observer.

The current developments have come about after a long and arduous campaign spearheaded by the Western Inter-County Railway Committee, which focused in the first instance on preventing the removal of the track and preserving the thoroughfare in public ownership.

The section from Claremorris to Collooney was not saved from abandonment until a decision in the early 1990s by the then Minister for Transport, Séamus Brennan. He gave an assurance that the line would be preserved until the Government reached a decision on its future, which it did in November 2005 with the announcement of Transport 21. By the late 1990s a new approach to railways was becoming apparent. The Government invested in track renewal, the upgrading of the main lines and the reintroduction of light-rail transport in Dublin city.

The folly and short-sightedness of the closures and abandonment of previous decades were now exposed. The decision-makers failed to take the longer view at the time. Two well-argued reports produced for our committee in 1981 and in 1992 were never taken seriously. In the context of Transport 21, they make interesting reading today.

The evolution of the WRC's case over the past four years was boosted by the establishment in 2003 of the West on Track community campaign, which came about as a direct result of the negative conclusions of the Strategic Rail Review in relation to the WRC, and the apparent lack of support for the WRC in CIÉ and Iarnród Éireann.

From the beginning the West on Track campaign was strongly supported by statutory bodies such as local and regional authorities, county development boards, the BMW Regional Assembly and the Western Development Commission.

West on Track and the Western Inter-County Railway Committee worked closely together and succeeded in bringing about the establishment by Mr Brennan of an expert working group under the chairmanship of Pat McCann. Both organisations were involved with the working group.

The McCann Report (2005) formed part of the basis on which the Government made its decision to reopen the WRC in two phases, ie Ennis to Claremorris and Claremorris to Collooney. [did it really?]

The report stated that the entire Ennis-Claremorris section could be reopened as a single viable project were the case in regard to the existence of rail freight traffic to be established.

However, since the report was published a new freight service has been introduced between Ballina and Waterford, carrying high-value freight cargoes for export. Every week these four trains, together with eight Coillte pulpwood trains, are required to travel through the greater Dublin area. Opening the WRC will allow these freight services to grow by taking a more direct and less congested route. [and that's worth 400m?]

In conjunction with the first phase of the reopening of the railway from Ennis to Claremorris, the Government has decided to clean, drain and fence the track bed from Claremorris to Collooney. This work is due to begin this autumn, in preparation for an expected decision in 2008 to reopen this section.

I believe that the reopening of the railway at Charlestown should be prioritised in view of the rapid growth and development in the adjacent Knock airport.

It is important to view the coming development of the WRC in the context of the ambitious national plan to develop railways throughout the country. All parts have urgent transport needs, but they must never be seen to be competing against one another. [except for funding????]

Indeed, the development of overland transport infrastructure should be bimodal, ie rail and road. By developing the WRC, we are putting in place another important piece of infrastructure, one which will ultimately prove to be of enormous benefit to all our citizens.

Dr Mac Gréil is a former senior lecturer in Sociology (NUI Maynooth) and author of the 1981 report on the restoration of the Sligo-Limerick rail service. He is joint-secretary of the Western Inter-County Railway Committee and patron of West on Track

(c) The Irish Times 18 September 2006
-------------
on your marks.....!!
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Unread 18-09-2006, 09:33   #2
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Problem in this country is no one bothers to double check the facts people quote.

Strange that the little freight that already operates without the WRC is profitable, and none of the freight that goes via Westport or Ballina comes within 30 miles of Dublin. I've done some math on track capacity and there is plently of it on the Kildare Waterford section and outside peak hours no shortage on the Westport Portarlington section

There are 2 trains to Ballina and 2 from Ballina for Norfolkline the article implies 4 in each direction

The distance advantage by WRC is about 15 miles that said it would still be faster via the existing route since its a mainline. Going via the WRC would mean using the Limerick Waterford line which is in poor shape and not electronically signalled and has 17ton axle limit where as the existing route has a 20ton limit that means you can't use the 201 class locomotives, noting that IE have recently increased the permissible weight of the Norfolk line trains only a 201 or 071 is allowed haul, I'd love to see how a 900 ton train will make it up and down the hills of the WRC. Problem is even a 071 is too heavy for the WRC. 201 will drag 1200 tons up a 1 in 60 and given the freight situation the trains will be fewer in number but those that run will getting longer to minimise costs.

Since we know a thing or two the section north of Tuam is dead, north of Claremorris is so far off the agenda that it has no chance at all. Having looked at the Middleton situation which is broadly similar in terms of condition a huge amount of civil works are required. In light of this we expect that for the section north of Tuam a works order would be required thus requiring a public inquiry, EIS and so forth, it will take at least 2 years to produce that a further year to get through the red tape

We have done our math and one simple fact means the WRC won't be opening anytime soon, IE have no rolling stock to operate the line and if anything more is taken from Dublin war will break out

As always WoT never promote or support a real service, Galway commuter is a real goer
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Unread 18-09-2006, 09:35   #3
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Unread 18-09-2006, 09:35   #4
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Quote:
However, since the report was published a new freight service has been introduced between Ballina and Waterford, carrying high-value freight cargoes for export. Every week these four trains, together with eight Coillte pulpwood trains, are required to travel through the greater Dublin area. Opening the WRC will allow these freight services to grow by taking a more direct and less congested route. [and that's worth 400m?]there isn't much of the latter in the freight business at the moment.
And another point, isn't Ballina to Waterford via Dublin rather than via Galway and Limerick more direct and faster? Time is money fellas and we all know there isn't much of the latter in the freight business at the moment.

Last edited by Mark : 18-09-2006 at 09:38.
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Unread 18-09-2006, 09:39   #5
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so is P11 going to put this in to irish times?
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Unread 18-09-2006, 09:48   #6
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There is no point arguing with WoT, in reality they just killed themselves by pointing out that the freight is already running, and its going by the cheapest route possible and requires no extra signalling staff etc just marginal costs on track wear, Tuam Claremorris would be at full cost

The arguement is purely freight thus we are keeping well clear

Don't worry despite the party piece the outcome for the WRC is poor, it won't happen what will happen is a commuter service for Galway
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Unread 18-09-2006, 09:58   #7
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Quote:
so is P11 going to put this in to irish times?
No. It is their campaign and their right to lobby for it. Our official position is as stated on the main website:

http://platform11.org/campaigns/wrc/

All posts on the message boards in connection with the WRC are the personal opinions of the posters, even committee members, and not the offical line of P11.

One thing must be added though. If and when any section of the WRC is built we will campaign for the passengers on it when they are stuck with a lousey service on clapped out trains that run late or never turn up.
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Unread 18-09-2006, 13:05   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Gleeson


Since we know a thing or two the section north of Tuam is dead, north of Claremorris is so far off the agenda that it has no chance at all. Having looked at the Middleton situation which is broadly similar in terms of condition a huge amount of civil works are required. In light of this we expect that for the section north of Tuam a works order would be required thus requiring a public inquiry, EIS and so forth, it will take at least 2 years to produce that a further year to get through the red tape

Why would a railway order be required Tuam-Claremorris and not Tuam-Athenry?
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Unread 18-09-2006, 13:33   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jister
Why would a railway order be required Tuam-Claremorris and not Tuam-Athenry?
The line north of Tuam is a much lower quailty and has level crossings everywhere, under the current safety regime every single one must be studied and where reasonably practical elinimated, normally by bridge. That requires CPO etc and a railway order is the best way of getting that when a very large number of crossings are involved
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Unread 18-09-2006, 13:38   #10
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The gentleman in the picture was just released from prison in Germany last week, name Fr. Horan.
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Unread 18-09-2006, 14:16   #11
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Any relation to Mgr Horan of Knock Airport fame? Just a coincidence that when he gets out, we have a WRC piece in the IT within a few days? Next think they will be arguing that they deserve the WRC as compensation for losing the All-Ireland.
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Unread 18-09-2006, 14:57   #12
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Any relation to Mgr Horan of Knock Airport fame? Just a coincidence that when he gets out, we have a WRC piece in the IT within a few days? Next think they will be arguing that they deserve the WRC as compensation for losing the All-Ireland.
Not that we know of. Fr McGriel is a well respected Sociologist and we know that in no way would he approve or condone the antics of Fr Horan.

BTW any more knocking of him and not of the WRC and WOT - which are fair game - and I will lock the thread.
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Unread 18-09-2006, 18:52   #13
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I did not imply with the graphic that the two preist were of similar mindset or mental health. I was just reminded of another famous Irish preist and his own transport lobbying and hence Horan at the Grand Prix. On reflection, the preist from the Quite Man may have been more apt. My apology.
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Unread 19-09-2006, 00:54   #14
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As Micheal Mac Greil has mentioned the WRC section from Claremorris to Collooney in the Irish Times article and seen as though this section of the route has been highlighted as an engineering disaster, isn't it ironic that Eamonn O'Cuiv announced today, the "clearing of the line".

"The work beginning today between Collooney Co. Sligo and Claremorris, Co. Mayo will involve bridge and track clearance, fencing, drainage and restoration of level crossings and will be carried out by Iarnród Éireann as part of the Transport 21 programme."

I post this as someone who knows this part of the line very well. I'd just like to say that Im curious as to how, they plan on "restoring" level crossings and if consideration has been made to "retrofit" the many "new" level crossings that have been made over the line. There's also a car dealership in Charlestown, that may be a little bit peeved, when the diggers move in to implement "track clearance" (Solicitors, please load your guns.) Oh and lets not forget the "driveways/gardens" built on the line, beside many of the former crossing keepers houses. I find this whole Claremorris - Collooney thing very amusing and happily sit back and observe it. Only in Ireland. And with taxpayers money too!!

If you're up that way, keep the camera handy as this "circus" sets up the Big top. Not sure when the performances begin though.
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Unread 19-09-2006, 15:22   #15
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PLEASE NOTE THAT FUNNY POSTS REGARDING IRN ARE NOW IN THE CANTEEN SECTION - AND THAT'S TO KEEP THIS THREAD ON TOPIC - OK?

The WRC thing really has gone so Bill Murray its unreal.

The fact that you even have a local TD assuring people that he isnt merely there on an election stunt must have sent out the first cold shivers of reality down WOT's back's.

Stiil, as i said above, they have their campaign, it's well run, if it works out fair play to them I hope that the first section gets opened up asap, it has sound reasons for it. Phase two will not happen for a good while and i think phase three will never happen, for the reasons that Mark has posted here.

Whither the WRC? Well, we need to have proper planning and development in place. At the moment it is so open to variations on a local level that we cannot in any way be said to have an actual planning vision.

Here's one: A single planning authority for the country as a whole that will deal with everything. Anything that gets built will need its permission, including road and rail links. You create it and you eliminate the local variations, of which, sadly, the West of Ireland is bedeviled with.

Is there an an tascie input to the WRC, does anyone know?
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Unread 22-09-2006, 10:40   #16
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Letter in todays Irish Times, anyone know if the service was frequent, I thought there was one train each direction per day.

Quote:
Madam, - Fr Micheál Mac Gréil's article on the re-opening of the Western Rail Corridor from Limerick to Sligo is a breath of fresh air, and brings back memories of the wonderful service of 50 years ago before it was destroyed by the mindless vandalism of successive Dublin governments (Opinion & Analysis, September 18th).

It was frequent[Was it?], punctual and affordable, and within walking distance. Neighbours met on it, and did their local shopping. Visitors arrived on it. Patients could attend their local hospital - the list is endless.

We must hope and pray that the Cabinet's conversion is lasting, and the decision is not just put on hold until the election is over, to ease pressure on backbenchers. Free travel is not much use when there is no public transport, and your nearest hospital with ever-diminishing services is an expensive taxi journey away. - Yours, etc,

FELICITY MacDERMOT,

Coolavin,

Monasteraden,

Co Sligo.
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Unread 22-09-2006, 10:44   #17
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One train a day was the standard service, lucky to see two

Wasn't fast either and was by no means reliable
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Unread 22-09-2006, 16:16   #18
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Not many services in Ireland circa 1950s were punctual, especially non mainline services. It was only affordable if you could actually afford it. Frequent? Not according to the Time tables Im looking at from 1947.

Another interesting piece from that letter is the reference to "free travel". An unfortunate remark to make in relation to the WRC, considering the doubt about its projected usership. I also note the reference to the "vandalism" of successive "Dublin" Goverments and not "the" Government.

I'll stop now. We've done this already.

Last edited by Derek Wheeler : 22-09-2006 at 16:19.
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Unread 22-09-2006, 22:26   #19
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You would have thought that Felicity would have been more concerned with the rubbish Monasterevin service.
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Unread 23-09-2006, 13:48   #20
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Hmmm..

In 1961, the timetable was as follows:

One train a day each way.

Limerick - Sligo
15.15 - 20.35

There was another train at 12.45 but that only went from Limerick to Athenry.

Sligo - Limerick
8.50 - 14.35

There was also a goods once a day.
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