High-speed lines on agenda as Greens set out vision for future of rail services

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan

John Downing

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan will use his party’s think-in today to outline his vision for the future of rail services across the island of Ireland – including the possibility of passengers travelling from Cork to Donegal by high-speed rail.

An all-island review of rail services began this summer in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Executive and one area it will look at is reopening the Letterkenny to Derry rail line.

This could potentially allow passengers to travel from Donegal to Belfast and onward to Dublin and Cork.

The review will also examine prospects for more services on underused lines such as the Waterford and Limerick line and the potential for services along the western seaboard.

In addition, the review is looking at how to ramp up freight services.

These changes, if enacted, will transform rail transport across rural and urban Ireland and see increased employment opportunities in rail services across the country.

The think-in, ahead of the Dáil reopening on Wednesday, will underline the Green Party view that the “time is now” for action on climate, communities and equality.

The Climate Action Plan, which will be announced by Mr Ryan early next month, will outline what actions the State will take to reduce emissions by 51pc by 2030.

The think-in will hear how the new Common Agricultural Policy should be used to help encourage sustainable farming to encourage young people to stay on the land, including through the planting of native forestry.

A National Biodiversity Action Plan will be launched next year to tackle the alarming decline in species and deterioration of habitats.

There will also be discussions on efforts to help the country recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, including the live-event industry and tourism.

Green Party ministers will argue that the party is achieving more in government than any junior coalition partner in the history of the State.

The party’s claimed achievements in power include enacting the Climate Action Bill, and a White Paper on ending Direct Provision.