Into the West demands rail network extension to Donegal

Into the West has called for new transport hub to be used to extend rail network. Picture by Translink
Seamus McKinney

RAILWAY campaign group Into the West has called for Derry's new £27m transport hub to be used to extend the railway network into Tyrone and Donegal.

Planning permission has been granted to Translink to develop Derry's former purpose-built Waterside railway station as a transport hub.

However, Into the West voiced concerns that trains would not enter the re-developed station but would stop at a platform outside.

The interior of the hub is to be used to create facilities for public transport, cycling and what Translink has described as “active travel.”

Into the West spokesman Mark Lusby said given the decision to proceed with a hub, consideration should now be given to extending the railway network into Strabane and Donegal with a link to City of Derry Airport.

There is currently no railway link with either Tyrone or Donegal.

“The current local development plan hardly welcomes rail apart from their development in the railway station. We need to increase the ambition, not only of Derry and Strabane council but also of Donegal County Council to make rail a priority in their development plan,” Mr Lusby said.

He also said that while Into the West was disappointed that its suggestions for the former Waterside Railway Station were not taken on board, it was pleased that a commitment had been made to rail travel.

Translink has also welcomed planning approval for the transport hub. Spokesman John Glass said the decision marked a new beginning in the way people travel in the north west.

“As an important gateway it will encourage modal shift from car to public transport and other sustainable modes by providing integrated and convenient services to enhance connectivity and encourage more active travel for a healthier region,” Mr Glass said.

As well as offering social and economic benefits, the new hub would protect the built heritage of the Grade B listed Waterside railway station, he said.

Work on the new hub is expected to start within the next year.

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