SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood has described the Derry to Belfast rail journey speed as “embarrassing” after a cyclist won a ‘man versus train’ challenge between the cities.
Local man John Madden broke the record for cycling between Derry and Belfast on Sunday last, but if that wasn’t enough the cyclist also took on the train in a ‘Top Gear’ style challenge. Although prohibited from travelling on the motorway, John Madden reached his destination with time to spare over his rival.
Mr Eastwood said: “Limavady solicitor and seasoned triathlete, Peter Jack suggested the challenge in order to highlight the inadequacies of the rail infrastructure between the two cities. The result, while massively impressive in terms of John Madden’s cycling performance, is nothing short of embarrassing for Northern Ireland’s railway system.
“Peter and John left Derry’s General Post Office at 9.15am on Sunday with their destination the Albert Memorial Clock in Belfast. The fact that when Peter finally got there, John had been waiting for two minutes. That is a damning indictment of the rail speed between the North’s two main cities.
“This situation, once again, shows the current rail speed is not acceptable and it highlights the dire need for the planned upgrade to be carried out without further delay.
“It is up to Minister Danny Kennedy to ensure Phase Two of the upgrade project is completed sooner than expected to give passengers the shorter journey times they deserve. While a fantastic achievement for John Madden, a man on a bike beating a £5m train between the two biggest cities in Northern Ireland proves how ludicrous the current rail journey time is.”
From point to point it took John Madden two hours and 37 minutes; the cyclist beating the record held by Morris ‘Big Mo’ Foster for many years. It took Peter Jack two hours and 39 minutes to complete the journey from point to point.