DoI answers on North-West rail upgrade remain 'vague but expected'

Tue, 17/09/2019 - 16:01 -- Editor

SDLP Mark H Durkan MLA has expressed his disappointment at the vague but expected Department for Infrastructure response regarding Derry’s perpetually postponed railway development.

He has slammed the inability to adequately explain why this project continues to be neglected despite the myriad of benefits it would bring to the North West.

The Foyle MLA said:

“After writing to the Department for Infrastructure to ascertain plans for the much needed development of North West railway links- I received a somewhat vague but predictable response.

“The crucial improvement of travel links including phase three had been earmarked for completion by 2021 but was subsequently and inexcusably pulled. And whilst I welcome the long overdue work currently underway at the Waterside Railway Station, the stymied progress elsewhere on the North West rail network is pitiful.

“Derry has been kept isolated by subpar infrastructure and no deeper is the East/ West divide felt than in relation to transport. Improved infrastructure would provide a life-line towards a brighter future for this city, yet the upgrade of the Derry to Coleraine line has remained a dangling carrot over the last decade. Promises which had been made, left unfulfilled.

“Despite receiving some £400 million from the Confidence and Supply agreement, it would appear that investment to date has not been allocated toward developing the North West rail-line. I acknowledge that due to the nature of this funding, the Department have been unable to determine specific beneficiaries. However, East of the Bann investment has been pumped into Belfast Rapid Transit, Belfast Transport Hub and York Street Interchange project.

“It is unacceptable that despite being the second city, Derry’s railway provision continues to lag far behind elsewhere in the province.”

He continued:

“The unwillingness or purported inability to invest in our promised upgrade and the potential further expansion of rail services here is lamentable. Lack of resources? Apparently not when the ludicrous, white elephant of a bridge between here and Scotland is even being entertained.”