**Photograph: Anthony E Bennett – Irish Railway Record Society Archive
Crusheen cannot wait for the completion of a transportation strategy for the county if an appeal to to open a railway stop is to be successful.
Cathaoirleach of the Killaloe Municipal District, Cllr Pat Hayes (FF) put forward the argument at a meeting last week. He called on Clare County Council to prepare a business case to support the development of a railway stop at Crusheen.
Senior executive engineer in the transportation section of the Council, John Gannon outlined that a transportation strategy in conjunction with the National Transport Authority is to begin this year. The reopening of the railway station is supported in the County Development Plan “by safeguarding lands along the route of the railway to provide for the necessary infrastructure to facilitate a train stop in Crusheen,” he outlined.
Objectives of the County Development Plan will be considered in the development of a Clare transportation strategy, Gannon stated. “The outcome of this strategy will determine transportation policy and priorities over the coming years in County Clare. This process will highlight any gaps in the public transport network and how these can be addressed. It will also inform future decisions in relation to capital investment in transportation in Clare”.
A recent sitting of the Transport Committee in the Dáil discussed Crusheen, Cllr Hayes told the meeting. He interpreted that Irish Rail CEO, Jim Meade said the onus was on the County Council to put forward a business case on the matter. Sixmilebridge overtook Crusheen in “initial proposals” for a rail stop along the Western Corridor, he said.
Specific emphasis needs to go on the case for Crusheen rather than the entire strategy, Hayes believed. “Crusheen is a growing area, has hinterland of Tulla, Ruan & Barefield. An ideal opp for a rail stop. We are not talking about a big building, a ticketing machine for the train to stop. This is really a way to take traffic off the road. I am half afraid that the particular case for Crusheen is going to get lost in the development of transport strategy for county”.
As he seconded the proposal, Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF) suggested efforts be made for Meade to give a briefing on the possibility of rail stops at Crusheen and Cratloe.
Putting in place a rail stop is “vital to the Crusheen catchment area,” Cllr Joe Cooney (FG) insisted. He referenced past and present development in the village. “I know Cllr O’Callaghan mentioned Cratloe but we should fight the case for Crusheen. I agree with Cllr Hayes, Crusheen would get lost in the county strategy”. He maintained there was “a small bit of light at the end of the tunnel”.
Locations such as Cratloe are dealt with in the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (LSMATS), senior engineer John Leahy commented. He said the Clare strategy would begin this year. “I hear what you’re saying on the demands for a station in Crusheen, unless a case can be made within the construction of a transport plan, the NTA will not entertain the idea. It would be foolish of us not to involve the NTA. We can only develop ideas through an overall plan. I don’t think it will be put on long finger, LSMATS is nearing completion and will be completed by Autumn”.
Cllr Hayes disagreed with the remarks. “Iarnród Eireann and NTA could put rail stop there without any transport plan for the county. The LSMATS won’t resolve the issue for Crusheen, the transport document won’t be ready for another year, we have a Minister there with Green credentials that would support the opening”.