SLIGO LEITRIM AND NORTHERN COUNTIES RAILWAY (SLNCR) RAIL TRAIL

  • Monday, 21 October 2013 09:29

SLIGO LEITRIM AND NORTHERN COUNTIES RAILWAY (SLNCR)

RAIL TRAIL WORKING GROUP

SLIGO, LEITRIM, CAVAN, FERMANAGH

                                                                                                                       17th October 2013

We are a community based working group, which has been formed to resurrect a proposal to convert the disused SLNCR Railway between Collooney in Co. Sligo and Enniskillen in Co. Fermanagh into a multi-use Rail Trail or Greenway. Our vision is to provide a great amenity for the local community and visitors alike. Local families and visitors could walk off road, and cyclists, wheelchair users and perhaps even equestrians could take to a purpose built path(s) in complete safety. The Mayo Greenway has demonstrated what can be achieved. Our proposal would be to replicate the general approach taken in Mayo but the experience for users would be quite different as the route goes inland, from County Sligo and along Lough Gill up through the valley of the River Bonet, under the North Leitrim Glens and on into the Lakelands of Cavan and Fermanagh. With Sligo and Enniskillen at each end, users could come from either direction. The cross-border aspect and the joining of all the communities along the trail are obvious and indeed symbolic features are unique to our Rail Trail. This is especially important for those of us in North Leitrim and West Cavan, which was blighted and cut off by the troubles of the past. Our proposal will open up access and connect Sligo Town and County into the Shannon Erne waterways and really the potential is quite extraordinary in terms of the potential tourism and leisure activities. In the longer term the expansion of a rail trail from Enniskillen in every direction presents almost unlimited possibilities. In Mayo, through community partnership and co-operation between all the stakeholders, the Council led, consulted, planned and designed their Greenway. They used the concept of permissive ownership agreements whereby all 161 landowners along the route were consulted and agreement was granted to permit the development of the path through their railway land and on completion, permission for the public to pass through it for walking or cycling. Similarly for the SLNCR rail trail, the landowners and the relevant local authority would be partners in the development and operation of the trail. Each local authority would provide total indemnity once the rail trail is completed in a particular section. Representative stakeholders comprising landowners, community representatives, local schools, sporting organisations, business and tourism operators and the local authorities would form a joint association or co-operative to ensure that all interests are fully represented. Any accommodation works such as new fencing, access gates and other works necessary so as to ensure that faming activities are not hindered will be a matter for negotiation but the experience in Mayo has been very positive. We have identified and approached all the landowners on the southern side of the border and have invited them to public meetings to brief them on the project and seek their written endorsement of the project. A similar sub committee has been formed on the Northern side of the border and they are doing likewise. Leitrim County Council has appointed a consultant engineer and he is actively engaged in preparing a topographical survey of the route. This process has already been completed in Sligo. Cavan county council have rowed in and we have gotten agreement in principle from the landowners for the 6 km stretch in Cavan. An economic consultant has been appointed jointly by Leitrim and Sligo County Council to put forward the economic appraisal and show how the project will pay and justify itself and this process is in train.

We desperately want and indeed must insist that this project happens for us as we see this as our one and only opportunity to catch up with the likes of Connemara and Kerry who have lead the way so far. We have just as much to offer in terms of scenery, culture and a special rural beauty settled with a gentle, close community blighted but unbowed by emigration and desperate for hope and an opportunity to better ourselves and give hope to our younger generation. This project if it is allowed to happen will be the catalyst for opening up the towns and villages along the route to unlimited growth in tourism and bring in much-needed jobs and bed nights.

Thank you for your attention, and we would greatly appreciate any letter of support you can give us when Leitrim and Sligo County Councils submit their funding application to the department of Transport for Funding which is due for submission around the beginning of November 2013.

Kindest regards,

Rosemary Kerrigan ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )              Conor Maguire ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

 

 

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