New rail plans a ‘slap in the face’

End of the line.. fears are again growing for the Derry railway service
End of the line.. fears are again growing for the Derry railway service

Fresh fears have emerged over the future of Derry’s rail service.

It is understood that Northern Ireland Railways propose to cut the frequency of the Derry to Belfast service and downgrade it to ‘branch status’ ahead of launching the new timetable in December.

East Derry SDLP MLA John Dallat says any such downgrade would be “a slap in the face to those who have campaigned for the upgrading of the service.”

“In terms of timetabling it appears that commuters wishing to use rail transport to Derry will have a choice of arriving at 7.00 a.m. or 10.00 and for those starting work at 9.00 a.m. this means coming two hours early or one hour late.

“Numbers using the Derry-Coleraine section of the line can only be increased by improving the service, not decimating it by further reductions.

“It looks like this railway has now got another stab in the back from a regime which has never fully embraced the concept of a proper inter-city service.”

Eamonn McCann of the People Before Profit Alliance says the proposals mark the third blow to hopes for Derry future since May’s election.

“Just two months since the election and already three of the ‘guarantees’ we were given about Derry. the expansion of Magee, a new-build for Foyle & Londonderry and now the rail line appear to be empty election promises.

“It’s clear we can’t rely on Stormont to deliver on promises made to the people. We need to get back to grassroots campaigning,” he says.