For ten years now a small group of rail enthusiasts and individuals committed to the North West have battled away to save Derry’s last railway.
Over the years, we got the distinct impression that the powers that be were trying hard to create the circumstances that would lead to its demise. It wouldn’t have been death by a thousand cuts. Several times, just a few more cuts would have done the trick. That would have been stunningly short-sighted. There’s strong evidence just about everywhere else that the railway age is on its way back. Already, despite a relatively poor service on our line, passenger numbers have increased substantially.
In response to each new threat, Into the West members organised effective campaigns. They tapped into a strong public mood of support for the railway. Politicians were forced to respond positively.
There’s still no room for complacency, but the latest decision by Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy to reverse his earlier stance and begin work on the track next July is most welcome. Now it will be open for at least part of the Year of Culture. More significantly, the scale of work scheduled for next year should secure the line’s long-term future. As ever, Into the West will be keeping a watching brief. Much remains to be achieved.
I’ve had some minor involvement with the group in recent years but a few stalwarts have been there from the beginning. Only a fear of leaving someone out inhibits me from mentioning their names here. However they deserve respect and gratitude. Well done, Into the West. I’m proud to be a member.