Derry’s only railway is a priceless treasure. For once, that’s NOT an overstatement.
People sometimes assume that because it takes the scenic route to Belfast, out along the Foyle and then along the Bann to Coleraine, it can’t compete with road transport. That’s utterly wrong. It’s less than ten miles extra. In railway terms that’s nothing.
The only thing that’s needed to make the line compete with the bus is the will to make it happen. We need more trains and some faster trains. Even today, when there’s traffic congestion, our slow trains can get to Belfast faster than the bus. And why, for instance, can’t Derry trains run on through to and from Dublin?
Translink have consistently treated the Derry line like an elderly relative they would dearly love to shunt off into a care home if only the awkward family members living in Derry would let them get away with it. That’s putting it kindly. A few years ago they’d have killed it off if it hadn’t been for the inconvenient fact that Into the West lobby group put pressure on politicians to get behind the line.
Last week, figures were released showing huge increases in rail usage right across the north. We know that railway investment works. It grows the market.
It’s outrageous then that we’re still waiting for a simple passing loop so the second city can have as many trains as the village of Cullybackey. And, we’re still waiting for the result of last April’s public consultation on a decent station. We were promised it in early autumn 2013. It’s like waiting for Godot.
This is an earnest plea for every public representative in the North West, at every level, to try harder to end our long wait.