2020: Derry and its modern rail terminus

Queen's University architecture students at the old Waterside Railway Station this week with members of Into the West.
Queen's University architecture students at the old Waterside Railway Station this week with members of Into the West.

Picture the scene. It is 2020. Rail gateway to Ulster’s unique Walled City and fabled Giant’s Causeway; the old listed, Waterside Station is beautifully cared for and loved by everyone.

Cleverly, creatively and sympathetically altered in 2014 to retain its original historic spaces and detail, for use as always intended, it meets the needs of a modern rail terminus brilliantly.

Magical, day and night, its popular, riverfront restaurants and cafes capture fantastic views to Derry’s filigree skyline, silhouetted against the setting sun, and panoramas to the Peace Bridge, Walled City and Craigavon Bridge.

High speed, nine-carriage, trains arrive and leave from inside the old shed on the half hour. Passengers on the increasingly popular Western Enterprise route arrive in Dublin, via Belfast, three hours after leaving Derry’s unique historic train shed. There is also an excellent service west to Donegal, Sligo, Galway, Kerry, and Cork. Next month, an improved commuter service starts with a rush hour service every 20 minutes.

Mecca to locals citywide, our transformed station is a popular community venue.

Its rescue and re-use has transformed the area where the dual carriageways that carved up the inner Waterside streets and cut the riverfront off from the people used to be. Buzzing 24/7 and hiving with thriving independent businesses, people of all ages and backgrounds love living here.

Fact or fiction?

This is the picture painted by Into The West, Derry’s rail lobby group, to eight young architecture students from Queen’s University, Belfast, who arrived into the 2014 Waterside Station on the Monday lunchtime train to take part in a unique creative process.

The ‘Transforming the old Waterside Station’ project, conceived by Into The West, is one of thirteen live projects selected as part of Queen’s University’s School of Architecture’s annual ‘Street Society’. The idea behind it all is to give an intergenerational group of students the chance to engage with a real live project, and a real live client, as part of a week-long intensive, creative project.

Into The West has set its young architects a daunting task. Drawing on all their creativity, talent and skills, the five first year and three fifth year architecture students are required to describe the scenario outlined above - in four days. They’ve been asked to do this in a way that will catapult the campaign to save and transform the old station for use as Derry’s magical 21st century rail terminus into orbit.