MEMBERS of the Great Southern Trail (GST) company, which has hosted trips to the Rhineland Palatinate in Germany, have said that cyclists and walkers there are happy to travel alongside a rail line.
The GST, which has expert contacts and affiliates throughout Europe, is now campaigning to have a greenway created alongside the new Limerick to Foynes rail spur.
GST Chairman, Liam O’Mahony told the Limerick Post that photos taken on the trips “show that Greenway users in Germany have no fear of being close to an adjoining railway. They even cycle through tunnels and are not bothered by passing trains.
“The Foynes to Limerick railway route is also wide enough to accommodate a Greenway and a railway track but despite several communications from the GST there has been no meaningful response from Limerick City and County Council or our political representatives. “
And he called on the local authority to engage with the people in a public forum at a central location such as Askeaton.
“If there is to be a Greenway it must be built at the same time as the railway,” he told the Limerick Post.
The not-for-profit company, Great Southern Trail Ltd, were behind the original campaign to have a greenway in Limerick.
In an open letter to Transport Minister Éamon Ryan, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, Limerick and Kerry County Councils the company outlined the urgency of making plans for a greenway alongside the rail line.
Clearance work on the line has already started and construction is expected to begin shortly on 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.
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 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,” he explained.