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Renewed calls have been issued for the installation of a rail link to Shannon Airport.

Officials in the National Transport Authority (NTA) have previously detailed that the provision of a rail link to the International Airport is a key objective of the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (LSMATS).

Plans associated with the LSMATS are estimated to cost €1.4bn while CEO of Irish Rail, Jim Meade has said the rail spur to Shannon would have a bill of hundreds of millions of euros.

A report published in October 2003 by the Shannon Railway Company detailed that a €60m commuter rail link between Shannon, Limerick and Ennis was “a viable commercial entity” through a public-private partnership. The now liquidated Beaux Walk Properties said it was prepared to invest €16m in the project.

Discussions on the rail link were reignited at this month’s meeting of Clare County Council with Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) urging the Minister for Transport, Climate, Environment and Communications Eamon Ryan (GP) “to put a plan in place to provide a rail link to Shannon Airport as our County Development Plan has identified two routes and certainty is required for the adjoining landowners and the travelling public”.

Securing a rail link would be ‘the making’ of Shannon Airport, the county’s first citizen maintained as he stressed the need to include Bunratty. He felt Minister Ryan would be “an open book” on the subject and suggested Greenway funding could be tapped into to make the link become a reality. “There is a golden opportunity here and maybe we should grasp it with our two hands to try move it on”.

Two pathways for the rail link have been included in three separate County Development Plans, the Cratloe man said as he sought clarity for the landowners. Director of Service, Liam Conneally said he was keen to see the rail link remain in the next Development Plan.

Criticism of the LSMATS was voiced by Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) as he seconded the proposal. He felt the rail link was ignored in the strategy, “it is shocking to see all the investment primarily south of Shannon”.

Shannon would be opened to the entire West of Ireland if the spur was in existence, Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF) felt. “The traffic into Shannon would be huge and also for a large town like Ennis, it would be very big for our hotels,” Cllr Pat Daly (FF) commented.

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