Northern Ireland news

Derry-Belfast railway line must be developed - Eamonn McCann

Plans to develop phase three of the Derry to Belfast railway line have been dropped. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

THE Into the West railway lobby group is confident a decision not to develop a planned third phase of the Derry to Belfast railway line can be challenged.

The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) announced this week that it will not go ahead.

A spokeswoman said the current track condition was "performing well".

"Translink is continuing to monitor this section of the line. It should be noted this does not impact on any future decisions for faster trains or a direct train to Dublin. In addition, there are no plans to extend the railway network or construct new stations," she said.

The announcement sparked an angry reaction from the Into the West group which successfully campaigned to save and upgrade the line 20 years ago.

Into the West spokesman Eamonn McCann said the group was well placed to challenge DfI and Translink to reverse it decision.

Mr McCann, also a People before Profit councillor, said that while an hourly service now operated between Derry and Belfast, Into the West wanted this increased to half-hourly.

He said people were angry that phase three had been dropped.

"We are better placed now to fight this decision than when we opposed moves to abandon the line 20 years ago when we didn't even have a bank account," he said.

Mr McCann said the group had a much larger membership and its aims were supported by mainstream political parties.

"Road to rail is the key change we must make," he added.

He said Into the West intended to work closely with environmental groups and the trade union movement to place the development of the north's railway network firmly at the centre of the green debate.

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