Welcome for Waterside railway plans

The former Waterside Railway Station. 2001JM65
The former Waterside Railway Station. 2001JM65

Plans to transform the Old Railway Station in Derry’s Waterside into a new transport hub for the city have been given a warm welcome.

Rail Lobby group Into the West (ITW) say they are thrilled after Transport Minister Danny Kennedy gave the plans the green light on Tuesday but said funding was not yet secured for the redevelopment.

“Into the West sees this decision as a vindication of its long, sustained campaign to save the old station and bring it back to its former use and glory,” the lobby group said.

“We now look forward to the speedy completion of the upgrade in the line between the two main cities in Northern Ireland, to give Derry a daily service matching Cullybackey’s 38 return trains to Belfast.”

On Tuesday the Minister said the “project is at a very early stage and delivery will be subject to securing funding.”

ITW said the onus was now on Mr Kennedy to “set out the timeline within which he expects his department and Translink to deliver on his ambitions.

“This should include a revised timetable eliminating the current, protracted delays on delivery of other planned and critical rail infrastructure such as signalling and the passing loop?

“Into the West now calls on all agencies and stakeholders to put their shoulder to the wheel to fully realise the delivery of the old station and its wider potential, without delay.”

Local politicians backed the plans and said lobbying for funding would start immediately.

SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood said the project “presents a huge opportunity in the continued regeneration of Derry.

“The Old Waterside Train Station is an important part of Derry’s built heritage and it is vital that it is central in the creation of a new public transport hub in the city.

“There is a great opportunity for the creation of an innovative transport hub in Derry which reflects the ambitious spirit of the city’s One Plan.

“It’s important that every effort is made to ensure that funding is secured to ensure the plans for the project become a reality,” he said.

Sinn Féin councillor Bridget Meehan said the station has the potential to become an integral part of the region’s infrastructure.

“The aspirations for the transport hub to incorporate not just the public transport infrastructure but also the walking and cycling infrastructure in the city with links to Ebrington, the peace bridge, the existing greenways and cross-border routes, are essential if we are to achieve a regional railway station that is fully connected and easy to access.

“Funding is yet to be secured for the site but Sinn Féin will lobby to ensure the funding is found to develop this important piece of infrastructure in the Waterside,” she said.