Updated: 03/05/18 : 13:36:59
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Bridge removal kills reintroduction of Galway-Sligo railway line

A spokesman for the Western Rail Trail Campaign – an alliance of community-based campaign groups in Sligo, Galway and Mayo campaigning to preserve the alignment of the closed rail line from Athenry, Co Galway to Collooney, Co Sligo by utilising the route for tourism and leisure as a greenway until such time as a railway may be possible, has welcomed the reports in western regional media that the Railway bridge at Ballyglunin, County Galway is not going to be rebuilt to standards suitable for a railway.

Reports in Galway based media this week confirmed the bridge is not going to be replaced at a cost of €1.2 million on a closed railway.

The bridge was removed last year to facilitate road widening as part of the N63 upgrade. At the time it was taken down there were reports the Department of Transport were planning a complete rebuild of the bridge at a cost of €1.2 million despite the fact there are no plans to re-open the railway from Athenry to Claremorris.

“It stands to reason that a railway standard bridge should not be built at a cost of €1.2 million until we know what is going to happen to the closed railway.  Options for use of the railway route are being considered as part  of a pending report from the Department of Transport” said Brendan Quinn spokesperson for the Western Rail Trail. "We understand a Report may be published in September."

The Greenway campaign group lobbied both Galway County Council and The Department of Transport to hold back on building a railway bridge at a cost of €1.2 million to taxpayers on a railway that has not been operational for 30 years.

"Until we know the outcome of  The Western Rail Corridor report it would seem ridiculous to replace the railway bridge on a closed railway; we are pleased the Department of Transport has called stop to this waste of taxpayers money."

The spokesperson continued “All indications are that the railway will not re-open for many years to come, it is probably decades away from becoming a railway again, if ever.   In the meantime protecting the closed railway route should be the priority.  Protection of closed railways by utilising them as greenways until such time as a railway is possible is accepted international best practice. 

The existing trackbed could be used as a greenway to protect the route.  The current railway structure, of rails and sleepers is only of scrap value to Irish Rail and would have to be pulled up in the remote chance the railway is going to be re-opened, so a greenway on the route would  protect it in public ownership for a railway in a few decades time.  It's common sense really.”

“When the greenway gets the go ahead to protect the route there will be a need for a walking and cycling bridge across the N63 and this is what the €1.2 million should be earmarked for now,” said the spokesperson.