Speaking after the meeting Minister O’Dowd said: “I am committed to improving transport connectivity for the benefit of our economy and communities and to help with the climate crisis. I therefore welcomed the opportunity to meet with Into the West to hear their views and discuss my Department’s ongoing work to improve rail services in the North West and across Ireland.
“Options for the Phase 3 upgrade to the Coleraine to Derry railway line are currently been assessed. If approved, Translink will be in a position to commence this important project for the North West. In addition, my Department is taking forward the All Island Strategic Rail Review in conjunction with colleagues in the Department for Transport. This work, which Into the West has input to via the consultation process, is focussing on how our rail network can better connect people throughout the island of Ireland.
“The Review is entering into its final modelling stages with a final report due later this year. Once complete, this work will provide an overarching framework that will allow for investment in our rail network across this island. While I cannot pre-empt the outcome of the review I want to reassure the public that consideration of our services to the North West is an important part of this work.”
Chair of Into The West, Steve Bradley, said: “Into The West were grateful for the opportunity to meet the Minister and Department for Infrastructure representatives. We had a constructive discussion about the enhanced role rail could play for the North West in general and on more specific issues. One of these was the outstanding Phase 3 modernisation work to the Derry-Coleraine track, and we were assured by the Minister of his commitment to getting that project signed-off. On current timescales, September and October promise to be a busy time for the future of rail in our area with Phase 3 hopefully ready for approval, studies into new stations to the east of Derry and also the all-Ireland Rail Review all due to be completed. We look forward to ongoing liaison with the Minister in the coming months on those important projects and to further advancing rail across the west of NI.”