Belfast Telegraph

20 new trains, but no new rails to take them to Derry

Translink will spend £114m on 20 trains for the NI rail network while passengers travelling between Londonderry and Coleraine are told to get the bus.

The company will buy the new trains despite the fact the Derry to Coleraine line is having services cut by 40% because the track needs upgraded and can't run the new trains at the speed they are capable of.

Transport Minister Danny Kennedy revealed the spend in response to a question from MLA John Dallat.

Mr Dallat asked Mr Kennedy how much rolling stock NI Railways intended to purchase over the next two years - the same time period when the service to Derry will be reduced by 40% - and to outline the routes where the stock would operate.

Outlining the response he received, Mr Dallat said: "The DRD Minister has informed me that Northern Ireland Railways will receive 20 new trains at a cost of £114m while the services between Coleraine and Derry will be reduced by 40% with bus substitutions.

"It was only a short time ago that 23 new trains were bought and now we have an additional 20, but no real investment in the Coleraine-Derry section of the Belfast-Derry railway. People could be forgiven for believing that there is no commitment to the long-term development of an inter-city service between the principal cities, which would give Derry a gateway to the rest of the island.

"The campaign to give Derry a decent connection with the rest of the rail network must be stepped up."

The revelation comes as the Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union, the largest trade union in Ireland, threw its weight behind the Belfast Telegraph's Keep Derry On Track campaign. SIPTU joined the calls for immediate investment on the Derry to Coleraine rail line.

Organiser Martin O'Rourke said: "This line is strategically important for the tourism industry and a reduction in the number of daily services will make the beautiful north west coast less accessible to everyone. The historic lack of investment in the north west needs to be put right."

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