by Kathy Masterson
THE redevelopment of the Limerick to Foynes rail service moved a step closer this week as Irish Rail have opened an expression of interest for contractors to rebuild the 42km railway line, which has been closed since 2001.
All going to plan, the contract is expected to be awarded in November, with the rail line back in action by mid-2024 following a construction phase of 18 months.
Limerick Green Party TD Brian Leddin said: “Really thrilled to see this get going. It’s something I’ve been working on for a long time, as have many before me. It’s the start of a major expansion of rail services and infrastructure in Limerick, Clare and Tipperary in the coming years.
“I worked hard to get this project and others listed on the revised National Development Plan. Two more critical projects are the rail link to Shannon Industrial Estate and Airport, the twin tracking of Limerick to Limerick Junction and various new stations around Limerick City.
“These aren’t just rail projects. They’re the critical element of our vision to grow our city and region in a quick and sustainable way so that we compete with the Dublin region and with European city-regions. New development must be focused around this infrastructure.”
Deputy Leddin thanked Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and Jim Meade of Irish Rail “for embracing this vision”.
He concluded: “The Midwest has a bright future if we build this infrastructure. Let’s do it as quickly as possible.”