The ambitious hopes of a new rail infrastructure linking Sligo with Donegal and Derry bit the dust today as it emerged that Irish Rail in an effort to stave off insolvency is likely to now axe four existing routes.The four services earmarked for closure are Ennis to Athenry, Limerick to Ballybrophy, Gorey to Rosslare and Limerick Junction to Waterford.
In a submission to the Labour Court, seen by the Irish Independent,
it says it is in a "perilous financial state" and spells out the options that could land on Transport Minister Shane Ross's desk in the near future.
These include closing routes with the largest State subvention per journey.
The document also reveals that the subsidy for the Limerick to Ballybrophy route is a massive €761.60 per passenger journey, compared with just 70 cent per journey on the Dart.
It said it could save €17.6m a year by shutting down Limerick to Ballybrophy, Limerick Junction to Waterford, Ennis to Athenry on the Limerick to Galway route and Gorey to Rosslare on the Dublin to Rosslare route.
It said the closure of the Limerick to Ballybrophy and Limerick Junction to Waterford lines would yield over €5m a year each.
The closure of the section of the Gorey to Rosslare route would bring in €4.4m, while shutting the Ennis to Athenry route would raise another €2.8m.
With regard to the Sligo/Donegal/Derry link, Sligo Today
reported in March this year that Sligo County Council has passed a motion calling for the reinstatement of a light rail line between Sligo and Donegal which would link up with the rail network in the north. See link below
Donegal TD Pearse Doherty said at the time, “This motion, which was passed by the elected members of Sligo County Council is a welcome development and further highlights the desire for increased cross border collaboration on this island.
“It’s passage now means that Sligo County Council has officially declared its support for the proposals to reinstate a rail line linking Sligo to Donegal and to join up with rail infrastructure in the six counties; and thus closing a major gap which exists in our island’s present rail network.
“Elected Representatives also backed calls for Sligo County Council to facilitate and host talks and meetings between the various representatives from each of the local authorities concerned so as to consider ways to advance the project.
“This proposal would also go some way towards further developing the western rail corridor and also realising the proposed western rail arc project, something which Sinn Féin has long endorsed and promoted as something which would transform public transport on the island by providing an all-island rail network connecting Belfast and Derry to Sligo, via Donegal, with Galway and Limerick.”Sligo Today
also reported back in 2013 that a Stormont document on the future of rail services revealed an ambitious £1bn (€1.17bn) plan to link Derry/Londonderry to Sligo. The plan was described by leading economist John Simpson at the time as a pipe dream. See link below
Such a rail link rail link between Derry/Londonderry and Letterkenny would cost £242m (€285m); £506m (€596m) to Donegal town and £924m (€1,087m) to Sligo.
In light of the state of Irish Rail's current financial difficulties such a link is now unlikely to ever materialise.
Links: Sligo Today 21/3/2017
Sligo Today 14/5/2013