Weekly Vote - Hopes high for old railway station refurbishment

The former Waterside Railway Station. 2001JM65
The former Waterside Railway Station. 2001JM65

A Derry MLA says he is confident “careful and comprehensive consideration” will be giving to a proposal that could see the city’s old railway station restored to its former glory.

SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood was speaking after attending a meeting involving rail lobby group, Into the West, public representatives from Derry and the North’s Transport minister Danny Kennedy.

“The logic of the case for the redevelopment and future use of the old Railway Station in the Waterside has been gaining great traction in the city. Great credit, in particular, must go to the Into the West lobby group in bringing this idea to the heart of government here,” he says.

The former Derry Mayor says the meeting “was a constructive step.”

“I left feeling confident that he will now give the case for refurbishment careful and comprehensive consideration. It is my belief that the logic for the station’s refurbishment speaks for itself. In essence, it argues for the use and preservation of a valued piece of our built heritage for a practical and sustainable use into the future’.

“It is this compelling logic which I hope the Minister will understand and act upon.

“Although our discussions today did not enter into the full detail and timescale of the case, it is obvious that time is a pressing factor. As we know, the next number of years offer this city a cultural amphitheatre which we intend to use to positively promote ourselves.”

“It is highly important that the infrastructural capacity and aesthetic quality of the city is developed to its fullest potential in the short timeframe available to us. It is critical that the Minister is cognisant of these timing pressures and they play a part in his decision,” he says.

Eamon McCann speaking on behalf of Into The West after Monday’s meeting with Danny Kennedy said: “We were hugely encouraged by the meeting which lasted for an hour and a quarter. The delegation argued that the old Waterside Railway should the terminus for the new rail line when it is eventually completed.

“I think the Minister and his advisors were taken aback by the breadth of the delegation and the strength of feeling expressed. Danny Kennedy could not have failed to be impressed that such a broad delegation travelled to Belfast to make the case for a single building. He undertook to organise a meeting between Into the West and the other local groups on the one hand and senior officials from Translink on the other.

“I am now more content than I previously was that we are going to see 21 century trains gliding into this magnificent 19th century building, epitomising the resilience of Derry and its great cultural heritage.”

Into the West representatives were joined on the delegation by Mary Kerrigan of The Walled City Partnership, architect Caroline Dickson, who designed the refurbishment of the railway station in the 1970s, John Kelpie, Derry City Engineer, Martin Bradley representing the Culture Company, John Anderson, representing the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society as well local politicans, Raymond McCartney, Colum Eastwood and April Garfield Kidd.