A County Wexford Councillor has led calls for the construction of the proposed Waterford-Rosslare Greenway alongside the existing Waterford-Wexford rail line, after initial plans to establish a greenway were brought to a halt.
There has been strong support in recent months to examine the possibility of re-establishing the Waterford-Wexford rail route, with members of the Waterford City & County Council Environment Strategic Planning Committee writing to Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD in February to call for the inclusion of the rail-line in the Strategic Rail Review. The line last carried passengers ten years ago in September 2010.
Chairman of Wexford County Council, Cllr. Ger Carthy (Independent) has called for the construction of the Greenway alongside the rail line as a contingency plan should the rail-line be successfully re-established.
“I’m calling for the Council to seek funding to construct a greenway from Wexford to Rosslare alongside the existing rail line. I would like to see it possibly break off then to at
least Bridgetown, and possibly down and around to Kilmore Quay. After the review, if the decision is taken not to re-open the Wexford to Waterford line, we can re-submit the plans for the Rosslare to Waterford Greenway.”
Cllr. Carthy called on the Minister to support greenways as well as supporting the retention of rail services, and said that the focus must be on attracting tourism to Rosslare, which must be ‘protected at all costs’.
“If the Green Minister (Eamon Ryan) wants to support the retention of railway lines, that’s fair enough, but he needs to support greenways too. A greenway from Wexford Town to Rosslare would link in brilliantly with work already done on our cliff walk down in the harbour. The biggest thing for me though, is that the tourism economy in Rosslare has to be protected and developed at all costs.”
The issues however will not affect the establishment of the Waterford-New Ross Greenway. Cllr. Carthy told KCLR FM on Friday last that it was only due to ‘fortunate timing’ that that project did not come to a halt as well.
“We’re very fortunate that today we turned the sod on the New Ross to Waterford line and we’re very fortunate that we were so advanced before the strategic review was called upon that line and that development may have come to a shuddering stop, the same as the Rosslare to Waterford one. We were very fortunate that we had the line cleared, the rail was taken up and indeed today we turned the sod on it, myself and the Chair of Waterford and Kilkenny are meeting in Rosbercon in New Ross today at 2pm to turn the sod on that development so we’re lucky that that was able to continue. “
The South East on Track (SEOT) group, who have led calls for the reinstatement of the Waterford-Wexford rail line, outlined in their recent business case report that should the line be abandoned in order to accommodate the Greenway, it would cost in the region of €650m to create a similar line in future. The report estimated that to refurbish the line to carry just freight from Rosslare to Belview would cost roughly €29m, rising to €54m to reinstate the current track for passenger services. However, should the Killanne-Killinick (Felthouse Junction) curve be reinstated, the total cost would run to around €89m, however it would reduce the journey time between both destinations to around 45 minutes.
Wexford County Council Chief Executive, Mr. Tom Enright previously noted his belief that it would be impossible to have both the rail line and the Greenway. The SEOT group outlined that they are not ‘anti-Greenway’, but they do believe that they should exist ‘side by side with rail infrastructure’ and that a greenway ‘shouldn’t be delivered at the expense of the rail line’.
The Waterford Council of Trade Unions (WCTU) has also called upon the government to re-open the rail route. They say that the criteria used to determine the need for South East rail networks has been ‘short-sighted’ and based upon business as opposed to public service. Tom Creedon, Secretary of Waterford Council of Trade Unions said:
“In terms of public transport and tourism, and in the current situation, where people are working remotely – we believe that the rail line can enhance the lives of people there if they had the opportunity to commute.”
WCTU will campaign alongside SEOT to utilise rail infrastructure already in place, for the benefit of people in the South East.