A PUBLIC consultation on a planned greenway on the former Youghal/Midleton railway line is set to begin within weeks, with the east Cork project being favoured over similar plans for Kinsale.
Councillor Mary Linehan Foley, who previously campaigned to get the rail service reopened, said that a greenway for walking and cycling is a good use of the disused track.
The rail line closed to regular passenger services in the 1960s and by the early 1980s all freight services had halted too.
“In a dream world, everyone would love a railway line in Youghal but it is not going to happen,” Ms Linehan Foley said.
“We have tried it, we are flogging that horse with the last 20 years trying to get it back to Youghal. It just wasn’t going to happen.
“When we spoke to Irish Rail they said so many lines are running at a loss and they haven’t got the money to invest in returning the railway line to Youghal at this time.”
Instead, plans are well underway for a greenway for both walkers and cyclists along approximately 22km of unused track.
Clare Cronin, project manager for Cork County Council, encouraged the public to show their support for the plans.
“The drawings will go on display in the coming weeks. Anecdotally, we have been getting a lot of support but quite often we don’t hear the positives as part of the consultation process.
“So we would encourage people in support of the process to make sure their voices are heard. We want this to be a flagship project for east Cork.”
Ms Foley believes the project can provide a welcome boost in the region: “The greenways have proved very successful and they open up areas along the way that aren’t open now. Villages like Castlemartyr and Mogeely would benefit, the spin-off would be massive for tourism in the area.”
A similar planned project on the former Kinsale rail line is not going to go ahead in the near future. Ms Cronin said potential projects where the land is in public ownership were being prioritised.
“The Youghal track is owned by Irish Rail and they are agreeable for us to make the application. If we are successful, the intention will be to take a long-term lease or licence from them to develop and manage the greenway.
“Cork County council are very keen to secure a large-scale greenway project for the county, having seen how successful they have been elsewhere. Initially, a number of options were looked at, including the one to Kinsale but that old railway line is predominantly in private ownership. For that reason, the council has decided to focus on projects where the land is in public ownership.”