Reopening Limerick-Foynes rail freight line ‘makes sense’, says Minister

Eamon Ryan plans to tackle climate change include a shift to rail

Plans to revive the Limerick-Foynes rail line will boost efforts to develop the Shannon Estuary as a centre for shipping and energy.

Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, told the Dáil recently that re-opening the Foynes freight line "made sense" because Europe's plans to tackle climate change included a shift to rail.

Pat Keating, chief executive of Shannon Foynes Port, welcomed the news, calling the minister's pledge to seek cash for the project from the EU's Climate Action Recovery Fund a major statement of intent.

“The project would also be a huge catalyst for wider plans to capitalise on the potential of the estuary, not just from a freight import and export distribution hub but also a facilitator of our plans to realise the unrivalled off-shore floating wind potential off the west coast,” Mr Keating explained.



Re-opening the 40km line, closed in 2002, would cost €45 million. The move would cut truck journeys between the city and port by 800 a year, helping to reduce transport emissions.

Mr Ryan told TDs that it would also open the prospect of a Limerick-Shannon-Foynes-Waterford line, increasing overall rail capacity.

Shannon Foynes Port secured €800,000 from the EU in 2015 to study the feasbility of re-opening the line, possible designs and getting planning approvals needed for the project.

""These necessary preliminary works and consenting requirements, completed in 2019 and costing €1.9 million, were funded by Shannon Foynes Port Company and undertaken by Irish Rail, " Mr Keating said.

Consequently, he said, work could start in rebuilding the line once funding for the project is secured.

“Based on the completed detail design, it is expected that the duration of the reinstatement works is fourteen months from commencement to commissioning for reopening for freight purposes,” Mr Keating added.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas