Nichola Mallon acknowledges 'unjust lack of rail connectivity' to Derry and Donegal
Rail minister Nichola Mallon has said 'you need only look at a map of the north-west to see the unjust lack of rail connectivity'.
She was speaking in the Stormont Assembly this week.
Foyle MLA Ciara Ferguson asked her about rail connectivity to the north west.
"The rail line in the north-west needs to be improved to tackle regional inequalities and, obviously, to cut transport emissions. The Minister previously stated that a review would be completed this month, but delivery is key. Will the Minister detail what action will be taken to deliver improved rail services for the people of Derry?" she asked.
The minister replied: "Since taking up post, I have been very clear that rail is an untapped opportunity. In fact, you need only look at a map of the north-west to see the unjust lack of rail connectivity. To try to address that, I got phase 3 back on track. The report is due to be with me this month. There is no slippage on that. It is on course.
"The Member will know that I have initiated work on additional rail halts and a half-hourly service to improve rail connectivity to the north-west. I am working with Minister Eamon Ryan on the all-island strategic rail review.
"That will look at the existing rail networks on the island to see where they can be improved, the opportunities for new rail connections and the rail connectivity to our ports and airports. It will also examine the potential of rail for freight.
"Those strands of work are ongoing. If we follow through on that work, we will be able to maximise the many opportunities and benefits to be had from a strong rail network across the island. We can see how that works in other places around the world where there is significant investment in rail."