I refer to Minister Leo Varadkar’s recent comments on RTÉ Primetime when he stated that the proposed rail link from Athenry to Claremorris will not now be built. Clearly, the failure of the Limerick/Galway section to attract business was a factor in this decision, apart from the dearth of funds available for such vanity projects.
The minister should now reassure us that taxpayers’ money is not being wasted on the running of the inter-county railway committee, given that this project has been cancelled. If county council officials or elected politicians want to continue to attend at meetings of that committee, they should do so at their own expense and in their own time.
While we wait for the population of the west to double, and for government finances to get back in the black, we should at least preserve the alignment of the disused railway from encroachment by turning it into a cycling and walking trail, in order to create a local amenity and a valuable piece of tourism infrastructure. Abandoning a publicly-owned route is not good governance; the authorities should lay a bit of gravel on the track-bed and put the asset to use.