Urgent talks over Derry rail project

The Derry train.
The Derry train.

Local rail campaigners have requested an urgent meeting with transport officials after confirmation Phase 3 of the Derry rail line upgrade is not being taken forward.

Into The West’s Jim McBride said the group have now secured a meeting with Translink and have requested another urgent meeting with the Department for Infrastructure (DfI).

Following on from a public meeting in the Guildhall recently, Mr McBride said: “In 2019 the railway line to Derry carried three million passengers over a year for the first time ever. The railway line to Derry is now the fastest growing and most heavily used single track railway line in terms of passenger numbers in Britain and Ireland.

“The Derry line has now reached its capacity limit and to continue passenger growth Into The West demands the introduction of Phase 3 which was promised by Stormont in 2013. This work will upgrade the track and cut journey times as well as adding additional passing loops which allow more frequent rail services to and from Derry.”

The lobby group have also raised concerns over potential cuts to funding for Translink which they have argued could have dire consequences for public transport services here.

“Spending per head of population on public transport in Northern Ireland is 40% of the same figure in Scotland which is totally unacceptable and requires some urgent change in direction,” Mr McBride said.

A DfI spokesman said it has invested nearly £74m on upgrades on the rail network and infrastructure in the North West, including £46.3m in Phase 2 track renewal, which introduced a new signalling system and passing loop at Bellarena for the introduction of hourly services between Coleraine and Derry, and £27.5m in the NW Multi Modal Hub, which opens in Autumn 2019.

“As the track condition is performing well there are no plans to take forward Phase 3 of the Derry-Coleraine line. However, Translink is continuing to monitor this section of the line,” a spokesman confirmed, adding: “This does not impact on any future decisions for faster trains or a direct train to Dublin.

“There are no plans to extend the railway network or construct new stations.”