Limerick greenway campaigners want trail developed alongside Foynes rail track

Great Southern Trail founder Liam O'Mahony on the Limerick Greenway

A VOLUNTARY group that has been working to create greenways in Limerick for more than three decades is calling for a new greenway along the line of the soon to be reopened Limerick to Foynes rail line.

The not-for-profit company, Great Southern Trail Ltd, were behind the original campaign to have a greenway in Limerick.

Its chairman Liam O’Mahony told the Limerick Post that “this is the only opportunity there will be to connect the trail all the way into Limerick”.

Clearance work on the line has already started and construction is expected to begin next month after Iarnród Éireann awarded John Sisk & Son Ltd the €65million contract for the first phase of works to reinstate the 42km line for freight services.

The line closed to passengers in 1963, but continued to provide freight services until 2001.

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It’s expected the project will be completed by 2024 and that trains will be running on the tracks in 2025.

But as yet there is no official proposal on the table to take advantage of the works to provide a cycle and walking trail alongside the line.

“There will be no better opportunity to provide this facility. Foynes, Askeaton, and Adare are beautiful villages but you can’t even get to Adare following the route of the existing greenway,”  Mr O’Mahony said.

“Greenways alongside rail lines have been done elsewhere very successfully. And it doesn’t even necessarily mean taking land from farmers. The original land along the rail line is the property of Irish Rail, and that property, for safety reasons, extends beyond the fencing boundaries so they own a portion of land outside of the fence line already. ”

Mr O’Mahony said that they got in touch with Transport Infrastructure Ireland, the body responsible for greenway development, but were told to talk to Irish Rail instead.

However, in a press release issued by the Department of Transport in December 2021, Minister Eamon Ryan is quoted as saying “TII is responsible for securing the provision of a safe and efficient road network and provides annual funding allocations to local authorities for this purpose. TII has also recently been assigned responsibility for Greenways”.

“I’ve been dealing with Irish Rail for decades and their remit is for railways, not greenways,” said Mr O’Mahony.

“Any cycle route along minor roads is way inferior to a dedicated cycleway, especially when young children are involved as God knows what may come around a narrow bend.”

In response to a query from the Limerick Post, a spokesman for TII said the reply to the trail company  was a “misunderstanding” and that TII “are responsible on behalf of the Department of Transport for funding the Greenway Projects.