by Alan Jacques
VEGETATION clearance work, which commenced along the Foynes railway line this week, must be a “first step” and not the last in the reinstatement of the Limerick to Foynes railway for freight and possible tourist initiatives.
This is the view of independent councillor for Adare-Rathkeale municipal district, Emmett O’Brien.
Irish Rail announced recently that they will be carrying out work on behalf of Shannon Foynes Port Company to investigate whether they can re-establish freight traffic on the Foynes Railway line. The works, over the next six weeks, include a number of service inspections along the line to inspect bridges and the condition of the railway track.
Cllr O’Brien told the Limerick Post that a number of years ago he walked a section of the railway track from Askeaton to Adare and at that stage it was starting to become heavily overgrown.
“It struck me how it was a dreadful waste to leave such a strategic piece of infrastructure idle. Of the three major ports in Ireland the port of Foynes has most potential to implement a rail-freight connection which can be reinstated with a minimum capital investment of approximately €12 million,” Cllr O’Brien claimed.
The Pallaskenry councillor praised the Shannon Foynes Port Company’s Masterplan ‘Vision 2041’, which recognises the significant benefit that the reinstatement of the railway line between Limerick and Foynes could pose.
Cllr O’Brien is also calling on Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe to provide the necessary funding to reinstate this railway line. He believes this will help attract international investors into Shannon Foynes Port, by promoting the fact it is the only Irish port with sufficient natural water depths to accommodate the emerging trend for larger vessels, up to 80,000 tonnes.
“Rail access will not only strengthen Foynes ability to capitalise on the unrivalled deep waters of the estuary but the tourism potential of this line could be explored with the possibility of steam train tourism linking Adare to Askeaton and Foynes,” he concluded.