Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard has announced an hourly train service between Derry and Belfast will be introduced this year.
Chris Hazzard said: “With the substantive completion of the Derry Coleraine railway line improvements, the last obstacle to the introduction of a more frequent service has been removed and I have therefore asked Translink to bring an hourly service into operation by the summer. This will increase patronage on the railways, act as an incentive to encourage economic growth and tourism and provide enhanced choice for regular passengers.”
In addition, the Minister also announced two further initiatives to assess the viability of increased service provision on both the Derry to Belfast and Newry to Belfast routes.
The Minister continued: “I have asked Translink to undertake a feasibility study on the introduction of an express service between Derry and Belfast ensuring it complements and supports the existing very popular 212 Goldline service. I have also recognised concerns about the frequency of the Newry to Belfast service and have asked Translink to draw up plans for enhancing frequency for consideration when the budget is finalised.”
Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney welcomed the announcement.
“Just this week we seen that take a major step forward with the purchase of the old station,” said Mr. McCartney. “The hourly service from Belfast will vastly improve connection between both cities. It will make it easier for people carrying out business, attending hospitals, universities and opening up the whole tourist product for the hinterlands of Derry and Donegal.
“While our local economy remains under stress and most focus is on road infrastructure, it would be easy to fall into the trap of ignoring the essential contribution that a modern rail link can make to regeneration of Derry and the North West region.
“Properly marketed, Rail can play a pivotal role, along with the exceptional scenery, in expanding our tourism offer and reducing congestion on the roads thereby assisting us to achieve our EU requirements on carbon emissions.”