Agreement on rail line greenway

Cavan County Council is to enter an agreement with its Meath counterpart to grant the latter the powers necessary to develop and design the proposed Boyne Valley to Lakeland County Greenway along the disused Navan to Kingscourt rail line.

Meath County Council, as the lead authority on the project, will then be responsible for securing funding for the tender and construction of the scheme. The Boyne Valley to Lakelands Greenyway will begin in Navan and pass through the villages of Kilberry, Wilkinstown, Castletown Kilpatrick, Nobber and Kilmainhamwood before ending in Kingscourt.

The 30km route is currently in development and, to date, includes a recently-completed 1.5km looped section at Nobber and another 1.4km section at Castletown Kilpatrick.

The agreement between Cavan and Meath local authorities was proposed by the outgoing Cathaoirleach, Clifford Kelly, and seconded by his replacement in office, John Paul Feeley, both Fianna Fáil.

“I’m delighted to sign that before I leave the chair,” remarked Cllr Kelly.

Cllr Feeley meanwhile commented that he hoped the engagement with Meath County Council as lead authority would be “much better” than that experienced with Leitrim in its overseeing the redevelopment of the old Sligo Leitrim and Northern Counties (SLNCR) Railway line.

In early 2019, then Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, awarded €750,000 to Leitrim County Council for the project linking Collooney, Sligo to Enniskillen via Blacklion and it was anticipated it would progress swiftly.

The choice of Leitrim as lead authority allowed Glenfarne Demesne to be a focal point for the greenway, but as Cllr Feeley stated, “little progress” has been made as far as he can see.

He was aware that the process of appointing consultants was underway, but was unaware whether this information had been relayed to the partner authorities.

Returning the conversation back to Kingscourt, Independent Shane P O’Reilly queried how the agreement might impinge upon attempts to have the line reopened to rail traffic, despite commitments from the Department of Transport to include the connection as part of a Strategic Rail Review that would examine improved connectivity to the Border region.

The strategic review is expected to be completed by the end of the year and is expected to bring clarity to the potential of reopening the Kingscourt line, once the terminus for the Midland and Great Western Railway. Though the passenger service on the line ceased in 1947, commercial use continued carrying gypsum ore mined from Kingscourt until 2001.

“Where will the trains go?” probed Cllr O’Reilly.

Cllr Kelly quickly responded: “The only way I see a train coming back into Kingscourt is on the back of a lorry.”