Irish Exporters Association welcomes Ministerial comments on Western Rail Corridor and urges development of Alternative Freight routes

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In its 2021 pre-budget submission published on Thursday 1st October the Irish Exporters Association (IEA) welcomes the recent comments by Transport Minister Eamon Ryan of his desire to reopen the Western Rail Corridor linking to the ports of Foynes and Waterford and highlights the importance of creating sustainable alternatives to the UK landbridge for Irish freight.

In its submission the IEA states: “It is becoming increasingly apparent and ever more urgent that Irish freight both outbound and inbound will be snarled up in any delays that occur in British ports post 1- January 2021 – whatever the outcome of the negotiations. This has been abundantly clear to us in the lEA for some time… Britain is not ready for the transport (and by extension the supply chain) challenges of Brexit. Alternatives to the landbridge using direct shipping from Irish ports to France and the Netherlands will be required to keep our supply chains flowing. We urge Government to remain vigilant that support may be required to open new routes directly to the continent.”

On the importance of developing rail networks as part of the new strategy the IEA added:“We welcome recent comments made by the Minister for Climate Action, Communication Networks and Transport about the independent review of and consideration given to the potential reopening of phases 2 and 3 of the western rail corridor. The IEA believes that increased rail freight capacity should play an important and significant part of our climate change agenda. The further expansion of rail freight also has the potential to contribute to Ireland’s regional development.”

Commenting on the submission Simon McKeever, IEA Chief Executive, said: “With Brexit now just three months away, Irish exporters will need tools at their disposal to limit the gap of uncertainty. We are calling on the Government to be ready to step in to support direct shipping routes to the continent to by-pass the landbridge, which looks set to be blocked up from 1st January 2021. I believe that direct shipping routes are essential to keeping supply chain open and operating.”