Transport Minister requested to urgently address Mayo Rail Freight crisis
Mayo Sinn Féin TD Rose Conway-Walsh has called on Transport Minister Eamonn Ryan to urgently address the crisis caused by the cancellation this week of access to Dublin Port for daily freight trains carrying vital exports for major Mayo industries. The issue was raised at the monthly meeting of Ballina Municipal District and Local Councillors condemned the move by Dublin Port and insisted that it must be reversed. Fianna Fail Cllr Annie Mae Reape asked why should it be Ballina that loses the service?
Ms.Conway-Walsh said: “Delays and capacity limitations at Dublin Port has led to the cancellation of vital access for freight trains from Mayo. One of the largest industries in the state, not just in Mayo, is being seriously impacted by this development. The obvious solution is to divert this traffic to the Port of Waterford, which is on record as welcoming the business. This may create some short-term traffic management issues for Iarnród Éireann due to these trains being required to travel through the Greater Dublin Area on route to Waterford. The medium-term solution is to invest in the Western Rail Corridor and revive the rail link between Mayo and Galway. This would allow these trains which carry 10,000 containers annually and other existing Mayo-Waterford Traffic carrying the equivalent of 5,000 truck loads, to access the shorter and less congested Western Rail Corridor route. It is now time to stop making excuses as to why this project should not be fast-tracked, as the Minister did yet again in the Dáil when talking about doing other projects first.”
She added: “This is the only shovel-ready rail project in Connacht that could proceed immediately if given the go-ahead. If it is not prioritised in the forthcoming NDP we will know that all the talk about balanced regional development from this government is simply more hot air. The crisis in Ballina is just another example of how out of touch this government is with the west of Ireland. Minister Ryan now needs to back up his comments of last September about the importance of re-activating the Atlantic rail corridor. A relatively modest investment in our western rail infrastructure will give the West and North West independent direct access to a major EU ports and provide equal access for future rail freight from Galway, Clare, Limerick and Tipperary to the Port of Waterford. It is imperative that this critical and environmentally sustainable rail freight flow is protected and invested in order to maintain employment and the supply chain in the West and North West.”
The freight service, with up to 7 return runs each week, has been operating for the past 10 years, carrying up to eighteen 45 ft containers, and facilitating many local industries who have moved their goods from road to rail. Irish Rail says Dublin Port ceased facilitating the rail freight service last Thursday, for operational reasons, without consulting with it or IWT – the company that runs the service.