Northern Ireland news

All-Ireland railway review will examine north-west network

Infrastructure Minister, Nichola Mallon said the review would examine railway connectivity throughout the island of Ireland. Picture by Mark Marlow
Seamus McKinney

AN all-Ireland strategic rail review is to examine regional accessibility, including to the north west.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon announced the review with the Republic's Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan.

It will consider how Ireland's rail network can improve connectivity between major cities and support regional development.

Ms Mallon said the study would consider the feasibility of “high-higher speeds” and any potential increase in the use of rail for freight.

The lack of railway network in the north west has been a focus of campaign groups for many years. While there is a single link between Derry and Belfast, Donegal is the only county in Ireland that does not have a network.

Ms Mallon said: “Travel by rail is an issue I am very passionate about and I believe it has massive untapped potential to deliver multiple benefits across our island. Since coming into office, I have been clear that it is my priority to address regional imbalance, tackle the climate crisis and better connect communities across Ireland.”

The SDLP minister said the review would build on commitments in the New Decade New Approach document to progress a spine of connectivity across Ireland.

“Now more than ever, our citizens deserve ambition in government and we need to take this chance for change to build back better for all people across Ireland,” Ms Mallon said.

Mr Ryan said rail could support social and economic development and the “environmental sustainability” of Ireland’s transport system.

Foyle MP Colum Eastwood said linking the north west with the rest of Ireland was key to addressing economic problems.

"To create more jobs, we need infrastructure development and university expansion. I am glad that minister Nichola Mallon is working closely with her counterpart Eamon Ryan to further that ambition following on from last year's announcement on extending commitment to high-speed rail to include Derry and Limerick,” Mr Eastwood said.

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