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Iarnród Éireann to look at feasibility of rail link to Shannon Airport

LABOUR TD Jan O’Sullivan yesterday welcomed Iarnród Éireann’s decision to carry out a feasibility study on a spur rail link to Shannon.

She said it was essential that Shannon is able to compete with Dublin and Cork airports.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary recently rubbished the rail link proposal to Shannon saying it was unnecessary. He said people travelling to airports don’t leave home to catch a train, but travel direct to the airport.

However, Ms O’Sullivan said: "A proper infrastructure access by road and rail is crucial in attracting both incoming tourists and Irish people travelling abroad.

"Many who currently see Dublin as their most convenient airport may choose Shannon if they can access an efficient rail link to Limerick or the west of Ireland."

Ms O’Sullivan said Shannon was a major asset to the entire Mid-West region and had witnessed significant increases in passenger numbers over the last few years, placing the infrastructure under considerable pressure.

"Shannon Industrial Estate is the single largest industrial estate outside Dublin with many international companies employing thousands of workers.

Like any other international airport, it is imperative that there is an efficient public transport system in operation linking the nearby industrial estate and also Limerick city," she said.

There was considerable scepticism, she said, when Iarnród Éireann opened the Limerick to Ennis line.

"However, it has proven to be a tremendous success and is now a highly profitable line," she said.

"Once the report is finalised by the end of this year, I hope the minister will allocate the necessary resources to enable Iarnród Éireann to proceed with the construction of this rail line without further delay."

A number of organisations in the Mid-West region including the local authorities, Shannon Development, trade unions and IBEC, support the campaign for the rail link.