Foynes railway station was opened on 29 April 1858, but closed to passenger traffic on 4 February 1963. Freight traffic declined until the final revenue movement – a train of molasses on 30 October 2000. The line was “mothballed” at the end of 2001. On 7 May 2002 the annual Irish Rail weed spray train visited the line  and the last known movement on the line was on 9 January 2003 when a permanent way inspection railcar traversed the line. Although the line is not currently operational it has not been formally abandoned. The Shannon Foynes Port Company and others maintain contact with Irish Rail to review opportunities for reopening it for future bulk cargo projects.
In an interview on Limerick’s Live 95 fm on April 18, 2011, Kay McGuinness Chairperson of Shannon Foynes Port Company said that they are confident that the rail link could be reopened for €7 million, which was considerably less than initially quoted price of €30 million by Irish Rail following the involvement of consultants and it was now a do-able project.
On 10 February 2015, Irish Rail wrote to lineside neighbours informing them of plans over the next 6 weeks, to clear the line of vegetation in order to allow a condition survey and inspection of structures to take place. This to inform a study that they are undertaking on behalf of the Shannon Foynes Port Company into the re-establishment of rail freight traffic on the line.
On 29 June 2015, it was announced that as part of the EU Infrastructure – TEN-T – Connecting Europe funding that the Shannon Foynes Port Company was successful in securing €800,000 for a study to develop the business case to reopen the line. The project is called Connecting International Sea Cargo to the Irish Rail Network (CISCIRN).