An Irish Government minister has said the country will allow citizens of Ireland to have an go at a new rail line that would link Cork and Kildare.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said the Minister for Transport would be taking up the issue of a new cross-border rail link in the coming weeks.
He said the Government was in discussions with the Northern Ireland Executive on the issue.
“The Minister is currently reviewing the feasibility of a route to Kildarvin, but will soon be meeting the Executive to discuss the route as part of the Northern Irish Government’s consideration of the Cross-Border Rail Project,” he said.
He added that the Minister would be discussing the issue with the Taoiseach and will be working with his staff and representatives from the Northern Executive to help with the design of the proposed link.
Mr Donoho said he expected the first section of the new line to open by the end of the year.
“We want to see a number of major developments in the next few months to help us get this project off the ground and onto the road,” he added.
Mr Donnelly said he believed there was a significant number of people who would be interested in the new cross border rail link, which he described as a “big opportunity”.
“We’ve seen that people want to get out of their cars and take a break from their daily lives to take a train or bus or car, and so it’s a very exciting opportunity for this,” he told RTÉ.
“You can see a big amount of interest from the whole of the Republic, the whole island of Ireland, but we’re going to have to work through the Northern, the SDLP and the Alliance Party.”
Mr Donahoe said he would be making an announcement about the project within the next three weeks.
“This is a project that I believe will be of great benefit to our people in the Republic,” he continued.
“I have no doubt that we will see a great deal of interest, and that will lead to the completion of the project.”
In his statement, Mr Donnelly added that he believed the Republic was ready to start work on the cross border railway.
“As we embark on the new phase of this project, it is vital that we ensure the project is completed in a timely manner.
In the meantime, I’m determined to get the project off to a successful start and I am determined to work with the Republic and the Executive in a manner that ensures the project can proceed in a responsible and expeditious manner.”
The Minister said he had already received a “plenty of comments” on the project from the Republic’s public transport authorities.
“It’s an exciting project that will provide a very convenient and convenient route for people to get to work and to go to university, for people with disabilities to access jobs, to get home at night, to go shopping and to have some quality of life.”
But I also believe it’s an opportunity for the Republic to take forward the Northern Powerhouse and build on its success in other areas, particularly in the areas of economic development and the provision of services for our citizens,” he concluded.