Eamon Ryan holds talks on revived ‘Derry Road’, says it would be 'very expensive' but transformative for country

Irish rail minister Eamon Ryan has discussed a new rail connection along the old ‘Derry Road’ with Arup, the company carrying out the all-Ireland Strategic Rail Review.

The minister has also spoken about a revived Derry to Portadown rail link with a UK transport expert appointed to examine large scale infrastructure projects.

Mr. Ryan said the resurrection of a line along the route once followed by the Great Northern Railway would be ‘very expensive’ and that London would have to be the ‘key funder’.

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But he said it would be of a ‘huge benefit’.

Eamon Ryan has said a revival of a rail service along the route of the old Great Northern Railway line from Derry to Portadown would be transformative for the country.

“I had a series of meetings with ARUP and the UK rail transport expert who was asked by the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson to examine some large projects.

“I thought providing access to Donegal would see the development of the existing line on the north Antrim coast. In those discussions, what started to come into view was the possibility of a spur from Portadown through Dungannon, Omagh and Strabane.

“An historical connection involving Monaghan took that route. The line would have to have a spur to Letterkenny in order to ensure a connection to Donegal.

"It would be transformative for the relationship between Letterkenny and Derry, as well as Strabane, Omagh and Dungannon. It would be of huge benefit to the island and would improve island connectivity.

“It would be very expensive because we would need to build a new line even though there is an existing line,” he said.

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Mr. Ryan has requested the latest draft of Arup’s rail review which cannot be published until an Executive is established and an Infrastructure Minister appointed in the north.

Eamon Ryan said the reopening of a Derry to Portadown rail link would be transformative.

“In terms of the strategic long-term development of the island, it has huge potential and I look forward to seeing what the final conclusions are,” he said.

Mr. Ryan was questioned about the lack of rail provision by Donegal T.D. Pearse Doherty.

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“Partition contributed to a large-scale closure of services North and South, on both sides of the border, in particular in the north west,” he said.

"Now we only have a single eastern-based North-South rail corridor on the island.

"This imbalance is further laid bare by the fact that, of the 54 stations in the Northern Six Counties, only three are situated west of the Bann.

"In Donegal, the situation is far more dire. Rail is simply not an option in Donegal with direct consequences...in terms of the social and economic life of the county.”

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