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South East On Track Express Disappointment With Comments From Wexford Councillors

On behalf of its 2,900 members located across the South East region, public transport advocacy group South East on Track would like to express its disappointment in recent comments by councillors in the Rosslare Municipal District regarding the Strategic Rail Review of the Wexford & Rosslare to Waterford rail line included in the October 26 2022 edition of the Wexford People. 

We would like to note that Cllrs. Carthy, McDonald, Moore and Staples were present on 13th June 2022 and all voted to approve the Wexford County Development Plan 2022-2028 which includes in the Core Strategy the following goal: improved transport links, via the recently opened N25 New Ross By-pass and the possible future development of a sustainable transport corridor comprised of the re-opening of the Rosslare – Waterford Rail Line and in tandem development of a greenway, will increase access to job opportunities and access to services including education and health care. 

Similarly, the Development Plan also includes Objective TS41, whereby: To examine the feasibility of reopening the disused Rosslare Europort to Waterford Railway as a sustainable transport corridor which would accommodate a reopened passenger and freight line and a greenway for active travel and amenity use. The Council will seek appropriate funding to facilitate the development of this important corridor between Rosslare Europort and Belview and Waterford MASP. 

It is puzzling that Cllrs. Carthy, McDonald, Moore and Staples voted to approve studying and supporting the reopening of the Rosslare – Waterford railway line, yet a few months later are seeking to interfere with and ignore the process of reviewing this railway line. 

We would also advise that the Councillors familiarise themselves with the Southern Regional Spatial & Economic Strategy (RSES), the highest level of a regional planning document in the country, as well as the long-term strategic development framework from the entire Southern Region stretching from Wexford to Clare. The RSES notes that the retention of the mothballed rail link from Waterford to Rosslare is vital for the future development of Rosslare Europort. Any proposals for a Greenway along this route should be configured to allow future use of the rail line. 

No other out-of-service rail lines are noted with such strategic importance in the RSES. 

It should also be noted that the recent National Ports Study by Wind Energy Ireland envisages a freight rail link to the proposed Offshore Renewable Energy Hub at Rosslare Europort. The Councillor’s eagerness to remove the Waterford rail link could yet jeopardise this proposed 200 million euro investment in their district. 

Furthermore, in reference to Cllr Carthy’s comments that “It’s stymieing two projects in the RMD for which funding is there.”, it is worth noting that an application for funding for the greenway project, submitted to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport on 28/11/2018 was not successful. 

As a group, South East on Track is not against greenways and in fact sees them as having an important role in future sustainable transport options to reduce car dependency and carbon emissions. In the instance of the Wexford-Waterford line, we would be supportive of a side-by-side greenway and railway option, as mentioned in the Wexford County Development Plan, and as referenced on the floor of the Oireachtas by Paul Kehoe TD, Verona Murphy TD, Marc O Cathasaigh TD, and Senator Malcolm Byrne. 

Finally, we would like to remind Cllrs. Carthy, McDonald, Moore, and Staples that the reinstatement of the Rosslare – Waterford railway line has been supported by organisations as diverse as IBEC, SETU, and – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network. 

We would encourage Cllrs. Carthy, McDonald, Moore and Staples to engage with their constituents on this matter in the future.

Submitted by South East on Track

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