Why the obsession with roads at expense of improving railways?

The A5.
The A5.

Viewed from the north-west of Ireland, a railway is a much better option than the proposed A5 dual carriageway, the pretentiously-named ‘A5 Western Transport Corridor’ (A5WTC) that the Department for Infrastructure has resolved to develop.

Yet another road!

In both Great Britain and the Republic, railway lines closed in the 1960s are being reopened. Northern Ireland’s decision-makers remain deeply hostile to public transport — rail in particular — and are blatantly pro-road.

Stormont never considered sustainability when jumping to propose this road and I believe that the Planning Appeals Commission failed to apply the ‘Strategic Environmental Assessment’ (SEA) to the A5 project, at the public inquiry, possibly influenced by the huge sum already expended on it. According to this European measure — adopted into domestic legislation in all parts of the UK — projects should be screened for negative environmental effects and to ascertain if they are sustainable.

Basically, roads attract motor car traffic, they are not sustainable and this A5WTC will only convenience about half of the population here. Since 1965, the north-west has no railway. It would be useable by all and rail is significantly safer than road travel.

Apart from Northern Ireland’s total obsession with road transport, can the powers-that-be explain why, in proposing the A5WTC, sustainability and the SEA were totally ignored? The proposed A5 dual carriageway fails on both counts. Rail is the long-term sustainable solution, it minimises environmental damage and is far safer. Can the decision-makers please explain why it was never considered?

Malcolm Lake