The Glenshane Pass may have been shut but there was no stopping the Derry train from Belfast.
Translink officially re-opened the railway line between Derry and Coleraine on Friday, following almost eight months of closure to complete essential safety and engineering work. To mark the occasion, a special train departed Belfast and made the inaugural passenger journey to Derry, picking-up civic dignitaries and community representatives along route before a special re–opening ceremony in the Millennium Forum.
The re-opening marked the completion of the first phase of the Renewals Project at a cost of over £30m which involved major engineering track safety and improvement works.
Translink Group Chief Executive, Catherine Mason, said: “This project will secure the long term future and sustainability of the Northern corridor rail link which provides vital connections to jobs, colleges, universities, shops, businesses and local attractions.”
Members of rail lobby group Into The West were among hundreds of people gathered at Waterside station.
“It will be remembered that during the dreadful winter weather of 2010-2011, main roads into and out of Derry were closed on a regular basis. But the trains never stopped running,” said Into The West spokesman Eamonn McCann.
SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan, said: “This stretch of line is not just a key public transport artery but also an undervalued tourism asset which should be maximised now that the line has improved and with future improvement to come.”
Scheduled services resuming on Sunday.