Over 1,400 people have signed an online petition calling on planning bodies to reject £multi-million redevelopment proposals for the Waterside Train Station.
The Change.org petition was set up recently under the headline ‘Waterside Railway Station plan – Derry Deserves Better’.
Translink plans to demolish Derry’s existing, smaller 1980s train station and develop the ornate, older station house as a multi-modal transport hub as part of a £27m upgrade for rail services locally.
Campaigners however have called for the plans to be changed to ensure that trains will go inside the train station and not pull up alongside it.
Responding to the petition, a spokesperson for Translink said tonight that the proposed development “will be an important gateway to the North West for visitors and will regenerate the local area”.
It is expected that planning permission for the major project will be sought in the coming months.
The petition is addressed to Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Planning department and a number of local politicians.
It states: “In 2013 Translink (NI’s rail operator) announced that Derry would finally get a new train station. This is something that local rail lobby ‘Into the West’, and other groups in the city, have long campaigned for.
“We argued that the city needed ‘a regional gateway fit for a regional capital’, and that restoring the beautiful, historic station at Duke Street (built 1875) would be the most appropriate way to do this.”
The petitioner claimed however that Translink’s plans will not see the historic building brought back into use as a train station. “Instead they want to create new station platforms outside the old building. They also intend to convert the historic building into an incredibly bland waiting room, office space, staff rooms, etc. – everything except an actual station for trains,” he claimed.
The petition lists a number of concerns including that trains will not be allowed to enter the station building, as well as concerns over the restoration of the exterior of the building, while also taking issue with proposals for a car park on the riverfront.
“Our city deserves better, and generations to come will blame us for selling them short - yet again - if we don’t fight to achieve it,” the petition states.
Translink said its proposals include restoration and refurbishment of the former Grade B listed Waterside Railway Station, new platforms, an enhanced 100 space Park & Ride, an Active and Sustainable Travel Centre, demolition of the current train station and a new bus turning circle.
It also plans to redevelop a greenway link to the city centre via the Peace Bridge as well as track, signalling and telecoms works as well as integrated facility for the provision of rail and cross-border bus services.
A Translink spokesperson said this evening: “The planning process for the North-West Multimodal Transport Hub is ongoing.
“The development will be situated at the former Waterside Station (1870s Grade B listed building) and wider site.
“It will be an important gateway to the North West for visitors and will regenerate the local area, making it more attractive to business and investors, creating jobs and enhancing the economy.
“It will encourage a modal shift from car to public transport and other sustainable modes by providing integrated and convenient services to encourage more active travel for a healthier region.
“Proposals include restoration and refurbishment of the former listed Waterside Railway Station, new platforms, an Active and Sustainable Travel Centre, Greenway link to the City Centre via the Peace Bridge, Track, Signalling and Telecoms works, a ‘park and ride’ facility, a passenger waiting area, retail units and a community space.
“The North-West Multi Modal Transport Hub will also include attractive customer amenities with the capacity to facilitate future passenger growth.”