The Western Rail Trail campaign has welcomed comments made by Irish Rail CEO Jim Meade to an Oireachtas Transport committee meeting this week.
Mr Meade was asked to explain the Irish Rail policy on using closed railways as greenways by Mayo TD Dara Calleary.
In response Mr Meade said that they have always supported greenways and that greenways are a ‘win-win’ situation.
“It keeps the asset in state ownership,” he said, “it keeps the asset utilized, and then if there is a decision at some time in the future that it has to go back into public transport mode, the licensing arrangement is such that it can do so.”
The Western Rail Trail Campaign and all the campaign groups along the closed railway route from Sligo to Athenry have welcomed the statement from the CEO of Irish Rail.
“We have been saying for years the exact same phrase as Mr Meade,” said Brendan Quinn, of the Western Rail Trail campaign.
“Greenways are a ‘win-win’ because they protect any closed railway route in public ownership and as Mr Meade said they keep the asset utilized.
“Irish Rail has very strict licensed arrangements with Local Authorities using closed railways as greenways should they ever be needed for rail again in the future.
Mr Meade made this fact very clear in his comments,” said Mr Quinn.
He added that the forward thinking Local Authorities like Waterford, Sligo and Galway are grabbing this opportunity as there is significant funding available to create long distance strategic greenways on closed railways in those counties.
“We are hopeful that following this reply to a Mayo TD that Mayo county council will also see the huge opportunity to create an East Mayo greenway on the route of the closed railway from Claremorris to Charlestown, an idea which has huge support in County Mayo.
“Our campaign welcomes the clarification achieved by Deputy Calleary in asking this question of Irish Rail on greenway policy.”