Foynes port: The company has identified the disused railway line as a priority
THE FUTURE of the disused Foynes to Limerick railway line still hangs in the balance following a mention in the Dáil by the Minister for Transport.
Minister Shane Ross said that “no decisions” have been made about reopening the route, when asked by Limerick city TD Maurice Quinlivan of Sinn Féin. But hope for the project remains, as it is due to be considered following a lengthy consultation process.
“The National Transport Authority (NTA) held a public consultation process to start a national debate on the current and future role of rail transport in Ireland. The NTA is now in the process of examining over 300 submissions received and is preparing a report on the consultation process,” said Mr Ross.
“Undoubtedly the findings of the consultation process will be used to inform and assist future decision making in relation to rail. However, I must state that no decisions have been taken regarding the future of individual rail lines, including closed lines such as Limerick to Foynes,” he added.
The re-establishment of the line is one of the key elements of Shannon Foynes Port Company’s masterplan, ‘Vision 2041’, which was launched in 2013. The rail line would be “a catalyst” for maximising the huge commercial potential of the Estuary, according to an SFPC spokesperson.
“Getting the project onto the national capital investment plan is central to all of this, and we have made a submission in that regard to Government, which also sought prioritisation of the Foynes to Limerick Road Improvement Scheme.
“Together with the restoration of the railway line, these projects would be transformational for the Estuary and help facilitate thousands of additional jobs along the Estuary over the next three decades,” said the spokesperson.
SFPC said that it has “progressed the project as far as we can” and, on completion of the design phase, it is “very much over to Government”.
But hope remains for the project – “Both the Government and the EU Commission have recognised the importance of the reinstatement of the Limerick to Foynes rail line for commercial freight purposes and, while serving niche markets, we believe it can make significant contribution over time by adding to the efficiency of Ireland’s supply chain and its climate change requirements,” added the spokesperson.
And the port is “encouraged” by the fact that incoming Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, in his role as then Transport Minister, “recognised the enormous potential” of the Estuary, when he launched the same masterplan in 2013.