The will of the people in wishing to see the “iconic” Victorian rail station become the focus of any new rail hub for Derry must be listened to, SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly has warned.
Councillor Reilly has now written to the Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard requesting an update on the upgrade of the Waterside Train Station and the bid for European funding for a new Transport Hub in the area.
Colr. Reilly said: “Earlier this year Translink’s Chief Executive confirmed to me that they are progressing a bid for a Transport Hub in conjunction with Derry City & Strabane District Council under Interreg ERDF (European Regional Development Fund).
“I have therefore written to the Minister seeking clarification on the status of this bid and any additional information which can be brought in terms of turnaround times for a decision on ERDF funding by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).
“Obviously the statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to guarantee any project signed off before his Autumn Statement makes this a very relevant query.”
Colr. Reilly has also requested that Translink, as the managing authority, make a presentation on this application to the Council.
“I have repeatedly made representations to the Minister’s predecessors in the Department of Regional Development about the regeneration of the original iconic train station building,” he said.
“I therefore hope that the plans for the Transport Hub incorporate the will of citizens here who want to see this historical old building, with all the tourism and built heritage potential that it holds, being put to better use than currently exists.
“Surely the voices in support of the purchase of this, which have been expressed in many ways including through public consultation and the DRD Committee Inquiry held in Derry at the end of January last year, deserve to be listened to and actioned.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Infrastructure, responding to queries from the Journal on the progress of the transport hub, failed to confirm whether the Old Station formed part of the plans for a Transport Hub, but did say:
“The project is progressing well with design work already undertaken and a business case completed following detailed discussions with all stakeholders.
“Funding options have been actively pursued and at this stage the EU and matched departmental sources of finance are both seen as relevant to funding the project.
“This project when combined with delivery of the £45m Phase 2 relay will transform rail services to and from Derry.”
The Department spokesperson elaborated: “The Minister’s firm commitment to developing a 21st century transport hub in Derry is on public record.
“The Department has, along with partners including Derry City and Strabane District Council, Translink and Donegal County Council, taken forward an application for EU funding with the purpose of constructing a multimodal transport hub in Derry.
“We are currently awaiting the outcome of the application.
“In terms of the construction the Department would anticipate that it would take approximately two years to complete from the appointment of a contractor and the commencement of work.”