Derry’s City of Culture chief says the city’s rail upgrade must be completed by 2013.
Martin Bradley, chair of the Culture Company, has written to all 108 of the north’s MLA’s, telling them the upgrade must be the the Executive’s “number one infrastructural priority”.
He says uncertainty over the rail line has the potential to undermine the city’s status as City of Culture 2013 and calls for a world-class service to be put in place ahead of the city’s year as culture capital.
“It is in everyone’s interests that this line is fully functional by 2013,” he says.
“All of Northern Ireland stands to benefit – and benefit greatly – from Derry’s City of Culture year. Our city is preparing itself for one of the most important periods in its recent history.
“So much great work has already been done, and it would be unfortunate if we were let down at this crucial stage by our transport infrastructure.”
In the letter to MLA’s, the culture chair calls on the Executive to make the full upgrade of the Derry to Coleraine railway line a top priority.
He further calls on the Executive to immediately secure and release the full funding necessary for the project and also urges politicians to “resolve any and all administrative impediments” blocking the completion of the upgrade by autumn 2012.
March in Belfast
Meanwhile rail campaigners say they will continue to “pile the pressure on on our politicians and make them accountable to the people of the city”.
Goretti Horgan of lobby group Into the West says a lack of political will is stalling the immediate sanctioning of the upgrade.
“Our great fear is that if the start date for this project, vital not just for City of Culture but for the well-being of the North West in the future, is postponed yet again, we may never see its completion,” she says.
Into the West plan a march through Belfast on October 20 to deliver a petition demanding the upgrade go ahead to the Department of Regional Development.