Minister says he remains committed to Derry rail line upgrade

A FULL upgrade of the Derry to Coleraine rail link remains on track, transport minister Danny Kennedy has confirmed.

During a special meeting yesterday with Derry City Council, local MLAs, MPs and lobby groups, Mr Kennedy reaffirmed his commitment to the £75m project but said it would not be completed in time for the 2013 UK City of Culture. He also stated categorically that there were no plans to allow the service to be closed, despite concerns raised by lobby groups.

Political representatives, lobbyists and business leaders at the meeting were unanimous in their calls for the upgrade to be completed before the City of Culture celebrations.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said he believed the redevelopment — which includes the laying of new tracks and purchase of new higher speed trains — could be completed before 2013. “We’ve got to find the money and get the job done as soon as we possibly can,” he said.

However, Mr Kennedy stated that the money promised by his predecessor to complete the entire project had been lost in the recent budget cuts. “However, funding of £20m was allocated to year four of the budget period (2014/15) to allow the project to start in 2014.”

He said that in the meantime, funding would be provided for work to keep the line operational.