Hourly rail service from Belfast to Derry would require £1.4m subsidy
THE introduction of an hourly train service between Belfast and Derry would require a taxpayer subsidy of more than £1 million every year.
Infrastructure minister Chris Hazzard said that while current upgrade work would pave the way for such a service, there would be considerable expense involved.
Mr Hazzard said: "The completion of phase 2 of the Coleraine to Derry track relay will create the potential for the introduction of an hourly service between Belfast and Derry.
"The introduction of such a service is dependent upon my department securing the necessary resource funding to subsidise Translink to operate the additional services required. This is currently estimated at £1.4m per annum."
The Sinn Féin minister was responding to an assembly question from Foyle MLA Eamonn McCann, who said his comments were "disappointing".
Mr McCann told The Irish News: "There is a hourly service from Cullybackey. Now I don't mean any harm to the good people of Cullybackey, but if it's good enough for Cullybackey it is good enough for Derry.
"In the grand scheme of things it is not a lot of money when you consider the cost of roads projects such as the A5, A6 and the A8. We have made the point that a tiny percentage of the roads budget should be switched to rail. Rail has been given a very low priority and there is a lot of catching up to do."