Rail lobbyist Smith is urged to back Phase 3

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Into the West have written to Secretary of State and rail enthusiast Julian Smith urging him to provide the Department of Infrastructure (DfI) with the £30m it needs to complete Phase 3 of the Derry to Coleraine rail upgrade

Jim McBride, a spokesman for Into The West, noted Mr. Smith’s active support for the reopening of a 12-mile stretch of railway between his own Skipton and Ripon constituency and Colne, in Lancashire.

Mr. Smith recently said the revival of the Skipton to Colne line would be a real “demonstration of how this Government is backing local businesses by improving vital infrastructure across the North of England”.

Mr. McBride said if this were true the same rules should apply here.

“Into The West calls upon the Secretary of State Julian Smith MP to intervene with the deadlock at Stormont continuing now for almost three years. This is a matter of urgency and Into The West notes that Julian Smith MP actively supports the benefits of a good rail service and campaigns to reopen former railway lines in the area he represents in England.

“Into The West calls upon the Minister to treat investment for railways in Northern Ireland with the same priority as he supports investment in railways in his own constituency.

“This a real opportunity to give rail users in the North West the funds needed to deliver Phase 3 by giving the DfI the money needed to deliver an improved rail service promised by Stormont in 2013.”

Back in June the ‘Journal’ reported how DfI had no plans to take forward Phase 3 of the Derry-Coleraine line.

The Department told this newspaper that the track condition was performing well and pointed to its £27.5m investment in the North West (NW) Multi Modal Hub which is due to open in the near future.

But Into the West insist that Phase 3 must go ahead.

“The UK Government has recently announced additional funding for railway projects in Britain not Northern Ireland and by contacting the Secretary of State he has the opportunity to treat railway users the same way as he would with railway projects in his own area.

“Into The West notes that investment in railways per head of population is the lowest in Northern Ireland compared with any other region of Britain and Ireland,” said Mr. McBride.

“It is imperative that the Minister treats this issue to the same standards of funding as he demands for railways in his own constituency,” said the Derry rail campaigner.