No political party can claim credit for progress towards a modern rail service for Derry. There’s no credit available.
The four men who have served as Minister for Regional Development over the past 15 years have been, in order of appearance, Peter Robinson, Gregory Campbell, Conor Murphy and Danny Kennedy.
In the ‘Derry Journal’ a week ago last Friday, Martin McGuinness did his loyal best to argue that party colleague Conor Murphy had been a cut above the rest when it came to equal treatment for Derry in relation to rail.
But no, he wasn’t. On the other hand, he wasn’t a cut below them either. They have all been much of a muchness.
Minister Murphy did say after coming into office in 2007 that: “The latest draft Investment Strategy…includes provision for the complete relay of the line between Coleraine and Derry commencing in 2011.
“This major project…involves provision of new signalling and a passing loop.”
We are still waiting for the new signalling and passing loop. And we still don’t know when the project will be complete.
Current Minister Kennedy took over from Mr. Murphy in May 2011. He says that on his first day in office, he was briefed by civil servants that there was no money specified in the Department’s budget for the promised major project.
It is time for everybody to stop playing pass-the-parcel with the issue. Even with the current wholly inadequate service, the Derry-Belfast track is carrying more passengers than Belfast-Dublin. Yet it continues to be treated as if it were a branch line of little importance.