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Shannon Foynes Port CEO Welcomes Tender for Limerick to Foynes rail

15th August 2022
Shannon Foynes Port Company (SFPC) Chief Executive Pat Keating
Shannon Foynes Port Company (SFPC) Chief Executive Pat Keating Credit: Don Moloney

The Shannon Estuary can become an international floating offshore wind and related green fuels generation hub, according to the Chief Executive of the Port Company, Pat Keating, who today welcomed the expression of interest’ tender for works on the 42km Limerick-Foynes rai line.

“The re-generation of the rail line is one of two transport links essential for delivering on the unprecedented opportunity for the estuary as a global floating offshore wind energy and transhipment hub. It will be of great benefit to the wider project, but even more essential is the road link to Foynes,” he said.

“The expression of interest tender is a very significant moment within our wider plans to capitalise on the unprecedented opportunity for the Shannon Estuary as it gives even greater certainty that this important rail connectivity is going to happen. This is a strategic move that will enhance connectivity to Foynes port but also help to decarbonise the supply chain by transferring significant cargo tonnages from road to rail. “However, the primary access to and from Foynes will still be road and it’s essential that the Foynes to Limerick road goes ahead as soon as possible. It will carry by far the majority of goods to and from Foynes, goods and materials that rail cannot accommodate. So, while we are delighted with an announcement regarding the reinstatement of rail, we look forward to an early commitment, too, on the Foynes to Limerick road,” he said.

“We appreciate the expediency regarding the rail reinstatement but it is essential, too, that we get moving on addressing our road infrastructure. Shannon Foynes is a Core Corridor Port under the EU’s Ten-t Regulations. These regulations require that upgraded hinterland connections, ie road and rail, are in place by 2030.

“The Shannon Estuary can become an international floating offshore wind and related green fuels generation hub, but our current road network links are an impediment to that. We must move quickly, however, as time is not on our side when it comes to energy security and climate change. The Estuary can be an enabler for addressing those critical issues for not just Ireland but Europe, with transformative economic as well as environmental impact, but it won’t happen without the necessary infrastructure,” he said.

Mr Keating added that the rail project is also very much endorsed at European level. “In 2015 we secured €800,000 from the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility for a Feasibility and Detailed Design study, including all associated consenting requirements, for the regeneration of the rail link in 2015. Those works were completed in 2019 and were part funded also by Shannon Foynes Port Company and undertaken by Irish Rail. As a result, the reinstatement of the 40kms Limerick to Foynes line is now shovel-ready, so moving to this next ‘expressions of interest’ stage to realise this opportunity is a key moment.”

Published in Shannon Estuary
Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney writes a weekly column for Afloat.ie. He presents the monthly programme Maritime Ireland on Podcast services and Irish radio stations.

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Shannon Foynes Port Information

Shannon Foynes Port (SFPC) are investing in an unprecedented expansion at its general cargo terminal, Foynes, adding over two-thirds the size of its existing area. In the latest phase of a €64 million investment programme, SFPC is investing over €20 million in enabling works alone to convert 83 acres on the east side of the existing port into a landbank for marine-related industry, port-centric logistics and associated infrastructure. The project, which will be developed on a phased basis over the next five years, will require the biggest infrastructure works programme ever undertaken at the port, with the entire 83 acre landbank having to be raised by 4.4 metres. The programme will also require the provision of new internal roads and multiple bridge access as well as roundabout access.