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Rail Project Vital for West's Long-Term Future

From EDITORIAL Western People 10 August 2015

It is heartening to see the chambers of commerce across Mayo coming together to voice their support for the Western Rail Corridor and, in particular, its reopening for freight transport. The chambers represent small and medium-sized businesses the length and breadth of this county. There are also large multi-nationals represented on the chambers of commerce in towns like Ballina where rail freight is the lifeblood of the community.

The potential of rail freight should not be underestimated. Those who suggest that the West of Ireland must rely entirely on tourism and agriculture have learned a very salutary lesson in Summer 2015. The crisis in the dairy industry is deeply worrying and has left many young farmers in a very vulnerable position.

Meanwhile the appalling weather has served as a stark reminder that tourism in the West of Ireland can be, at times, a very ephemeral industry. It is certainly an important component of our economy but it does not come close to offering the sort of reliable income that is derived from multi-national industries like Allergan, Ballina Beverages, Hollister, Baxter, etc. Westport, for example, may be the tourism capital of Mayo but any local would agree that the town would be lost without its 800 jobs at Allergan.

Western Rail Corridor to be used for freight.

The campaign for reopening the Western Rail Corridor is entering a very important phase. We are approaching a general election that could define the future of the West of Ireland for the rest of the 21st century. We need to identify issues that are important to the region and forcefully argue our case. Knock Airport is one of these red-line issues and the Western Rail Corridor is another. These are vital pieces of infrastructure that have the potential to bring connectivity and prosperity to our region for the next 50 years or longer.

The chambers of commerce in Mayo have led the way. It is up to everyone else in the region to get behind our business leaders and keep this issue on the political agenda for the next year.

Western Rail Corridor useful for carrying freight.







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