Development of existing rail lines is the future for Limerick

A section of the old Limerick to Foynes railway track.

THE future of Limerick is about development along the existing rail infrastructure, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan told the Dáil chamber.

The Minister was responding to a question from Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan, who had voiced concerns about the Limerick-Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (LSMATS).

“Particularly, when a vital piece of infrastructure such as the Northern Distributor Road is removed from the second iteration of the strategy without consultation and against the wishes of the vast majority of elected members in both Clare and Limerick,” Deputy Quinlivan explained.

“It is my understanding that this was done under the Minister’s instruction. Under the rail section of that document, it commits, as the Minister said, to a new rail station in Moyross that would match the demand for travel in that area. I speak specifically of a station in Moyross and its potential.”

Moyross and its surrounds, he told the Minister, are an area prime for development and investment.

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In response, Minister Ryan took the view that a rail station in Moyross will transform that part of the city.

“As the Deputy said, it is close to the university and Thomond Park and to an existing community that would really benefit from the connectivity with the city. That has already been improved with the new bus services, which have been hugely popular. I visited Moyross last year and got a real sense that the people there are dying for good public transport. I disagree with the Deputy and think the future of Limerick is about development along the existing rail infrastructure in particular,” he said.

“I think there is huge opportunity with the under-utilised rail infrastructure and I think the future is in a metropolitan Limerick rail system. The Shannon region, I think, extends from the Ballybrophy line and Nenagh up to beyond Cloghjordan and Roscrea even. That can be seen as part of the region because many people commute from the likes of Nenagh into Limerick. Similarly, reopening the Shannon-Foynes line has huge benefits for Askeaton and other towns along the way. I think that is the future for Limerick.”

Deputy Quinlivan hit back that the Northern  Distributor Road will be delivered by Sinn Féin in government “or anyone else, except Deputy Ryan as Minister”.

Green Party TD for Limerick, Brian Leddin said he was absolutely shocked by Deputy Quinlivan’s insistence that the distributor road will be delivered if Sinn Féin is in government.

”It makes an absolute mockery of Sinn Féin’s claim to be at all serious on climate or planning,” Deputy Leddin said.

“The northern distributor road is absolutely the wrong project for Limerick. The right project for Limerick is laid out in the Limerick-Shannon metropolitan area transport strategy. It is incredible investment in rail and bus infrastructure in Limerick and Clare, and I welcome the Minister’s comments.”