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*Photograph: John Mangan

DELIVERING A RAIL LINK can provide Shannon Airport with a unique selling point that competitors in the country will not be able to match.

Provision of a rail spur to Shannon Airport is referenced in the €165bn National Development Plan which runs from 2021 to 2030 while it is also one of the key aspects of the revised draft Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (LSMATS).

Speaking at a briefing with Shannon Airport management, Cllr Pat Daly (FF) recalled visiting the Airport as a young boy where “thousands of young people were going to New York City and Boston. Shannon was up against it since the 1990s, Limerick and Galway have huge populations but the sad thing is a lot of Galway people are going to Dublin Airport, I don’t know what is wrong, I met people from Laois and Offaly who flew out of Shannon and found it great, it is important to market the Midlands, they’re avoiding Dublin and it could be Shannon’s gain”.

Every effort must be made to make the mooted rail link a reality, the Ennis native said. “The biggest prospect that Dublin can’t deliver is a rail link. If you’re in Athlone, Galway or Thurles, you can sit in the train and you would be brought directly into the Airport. Shannon Group should push it in a big way”.

CEO of Shannon Group, Mary Considine acknowledged that the rail link “is very important”. She explained, “it is something we’ve reflected in our own submission on the feasibility study and we also made a strong submission for the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy”.

Plans for a rail link are at “very early stages,” with work ongoing with the Department of Transport she stated while expressing hope of the potential boost the “more longer-term project” would bring to Shannon.

Another aim of management is to secure access to a strategic hub in Europe, “it is something we’re actively working on,” Mary commented while referencing the importance of their routes to Paris and London.

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