Old train station can be a ‘vibrant, social hub’ for city

The interior of the old Waterside Railway Station.
The interior of the old Waterside Railway Station.

Reusing the original Waterside Railway Station as the city’s 21st century terminus would demonstrate “prudent” use of public money, according to a lobby group calling for its revamp.

The Into the West (ITW) suggestion is contained in its official response to a public consultation on the potential for a new train station in Derry.

Translink, which operates the Derry line, has four options on the table - refurbish the existing station, a new Ebrington station, relocate to the original Waterside Station or a new ‘Waterside Link’ station.

Into the West is firmly behind reusing the original Waterside station, arguing that it would give new life to one of the area’s most distinctive listed buildings - “the only one of significance left on its riverfront.”

ITW says that, with arterial road infrastructure, public transport links and multi-storey car parking already in place, the economic benefits of using the old station are apparent.

The current station, says ITW, is “unfit at age 33” while the 138 year old station - located just yards away - could “last as long again - in terms of value for money, no alternative comes close.”

The old station, says ITW, carries cultural, architectural and social “memory” while the “majesty” of the building enhances local character and gives scope for “high quality place-making at Duke Street roundabout.”

Turning to the social benefits of re-using the old station, the ITW submission goes on: “It can be much more than a station. Illuminated by the afternoon and evening sun on its west facade, it can become a buzzing, vibrant social hub – inside and out – for inner city communities and passengers alike.

“Current road and rail infrastructure denies direct access to the inner-city eastern shoreline. Taking trains inside the old shed would allow access to the shore between the station’s western façade and the river. A regenerated station would be a catalyst for remedial design of the Duke Street and river frontage public space.”

ITW argues that among the changes needed to “bring the old station back” are: a sensitive extension of the 1875 historic shed to accommodate longer trains, jetties at the river for a water taxi service to cityside and extension of western face for glass-fronted cafe on the riverfront.