John O’Dowd willing to consider Derry-Omagh rail proposal

Rail minister John O’Dowd has said his department will be happy to consider proposals for a railway from Derry to Omagh as part of a consultation into a new regional transport plan to 2035.

He was asked by SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan for his assessment of the expansion of rail services from Derry to Strabane and Omagh by way of an Assembly Question.

“My Department is also currently developing the new Regional Strategic Transport Network Transport Plan (RSTNTP) which will set out priorities for investment in our road, rail and inter-urban limited stop bus network, including park & ride, through to 2035. This will, in association with Translink, include high level assessments on a variety of potential rail improvements. The RSTNTP will be subject to public consultation and I will be pleased to consider representations on the plan including those in relation to the rail network,” said Mr. O’Dowd.

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The Derry to Belfast train passes the city’s iconic Peace Bridge at Ebrington. Photo: Tony Monaghan.

“The Review will allow us to consider our rail network across this island to view how it can be improved for everyone. It will examine the potential for rail connections across the island including how our existing connections could be improved and where new rail links would be best placed.

“It will also examine how we can connect our rail network to areas such as from Derry to Strabane and Omagh, our international gateways through our ports and airports, the potential for transporting freight using the rail network whilst also considering how we can move to a low or zero emission rail network.

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“It is anticipated that the review will be completed in the autumn of 2022,” said the minister.