Conway: Phase 3 is not planned in this budget

STATION PROTEST. . . .The Into The West 'Keep Derry on Track' group pictured protesting at Waterside Railway Station last month. DER4514MC038
STATION PROTEST. . . .The Into The West 'Keep Derry on Track' group pictured protesting at Waterside Railway Station last month. DER4514MC038

Translink Chief Executive Chris Conway has written to Derry City & Strabane District Council to confirm there’s no money to commence Phase 3 of the Derry to Belfast rail upgrade.

Mr. Conway wrote to the Council following a presentation to the local authority by the Into the West group’s Jim McBride during the summer.

Mr. McBride had urged councillors to press for the immediate release of funds to complete the final stage of the renewal works.

Mr. Conway has now written to the Council reiterating the position that was reported in this paper in June, namely, that there is no budget for the renewal works at present.

“Translink’s priorities are based on the ‘Railway Investment Prioritisation Strategy’ which was developed by the then Department of Regional Development in May 2014, after extensive consultation.

“The strategy does highlight that progress in delivering the strategy will depend upon funding being made available from the Executive’s budget and the final Phase 3, to renew the track between Castlerock and Eglinton, is not planned in the current budget period,” he said.

The Translink boss, however, pointed to the “significant” sums committed by the transport company to the Derry area over recent years.

“Translink is fully supportive of any plans to increase the use of public transport and nearly £74m has been invested in significant upgrades on the rail network and associated infrastructure to the North West in recent years.

“This includes the Derry-Coleraine Phase 2 track renewal which introduced a new modern signalling system and the construction of a passing loop at Bellarena, which paved the way for the introduction of hourly services between Coleraine and Derry,” he added.

He also pointed to the spending on the new Waterside railway station and to the fact that there has been “significant investment in the bus network, with a high frequency of service between Belfast and Derry-Londonderry”.