Rail connections to Donegal and the West must be a priority in 2021, according to Midlands Northwest MEP Chris MacManus.
The Sinn Féin MEP has welcomed a vote in the European Parliament to designate 2021 as the European Year of Rail.
This year must lead to investment in regional transport imbalances, he said.
Speaking from Brussels, MEP MacManus said: “It is clear to see that as in the midst of a catastrophic climate crisis, that rail is the future of transport. Rail transport is a sustainable, innovative and safe mode of transport, with a cross-border dimension.
“Campaigns to deliver the Western Rail Corridor connecting Derry to Cork through Donegal have been widely welcomed by the public and would provide a much needed service to these communities. The European Year of Rail must lead to the fruition of these projects.”
The Sinn Féin MEP outlined the importance of a ‘for the people’ attitude. “We must ensure that this year brings investment in public rail services, and does not lead to a liberalisation and the privatisation of the rail market. Ireland needs rail services for the people by the people.”
“I hope that an EU focus on promoting rail will help us to correct the regional imbalances on the island of Ireland, with the West having limited rail connections, and no connection that would entirely connect the towns and hubs of the West. Rail connections in the West, connecting all along from Derry to Cork, would significantly improve the economy of the West and add a valuable contribution to counties like Donegal.”
MacManus concluded by calling on Government to fairly distribute EU funding. “For too long, we have saw TEN-T, the EU transport funding, being used by the Irish government to benefit the eastern seaboard whilst ignoring much of the rest of island and thus exaggerating further the regional imbalances.”
“I will continue to call on the Irish government to use EU transport funding and investment in rail in the region that requires it most, to enhance the West and border regions.”