Translink and Into The West in talks over rail line future

STATION PROTEST. . . .The Into The West 'Keep Derry on Track' group pictured protesting at Waterside Railway Station last month. DER4514MC038

STATION PROTEST. . . .The Into The West 'Keep Derry on Track' group pictured protesting at Waterside Railway Station last month. DER4514MC038

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A delegation from local rail lobby Into The West are to meet with senior Translink officials in Belfast tomorrow to discuss the future of the Derry line.

ITW representatives have vowed to press new Translink Chief Executive David Strahan for assurances that there will be no further delays in long-promised work on the line because of recently-announced budget restraints.

“Our experience has been of delay after delay,” said a spokesperson for the group. “The latest set-back was the announcement in September last year that the installation of a passing loop and new signalling will not now be completed until 2016, This rules out the vital hourly service to Belfast for two more years.”

Meanwhile, says the group, a further £17.6 million has been provided for improvements on the Dublin line. “This money seems to have been produced out of a hat in short order - despite the fact that, according to Translink’s own figures, passenger numbers between Derry and Belfast have risen by 238% over the last few years – compared with the 25% growth over 25 years which had been predicted. At the same time, numbers on the favoured Dublin line have actually fallen.”

He added that the delegation will be further pressing Translink “to tell the Department that funding for the Derry line must be ring-fenced before any discussion takes place of reshaping spending.”