Belfast Telegraph

Demand for rail link funding probe

By Brendan McDaid

The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce is set to call for an investigation into where funding for the Derry to Coleraine line has been spent, the Belfast Telegraph has learned.

The chamber is to write to Stormont regional development committee chair Jimmy Spratt to request the investigation.

Chamber bosses said they are "very concerned" at the failure of the DRD to upgrade the line.

It has also congratulated the Telegraph on its Keep Derry On Track campaign, which is lobbying for a firm commitment that Government will stump up all of the £75 million needed to upgrade the line.

Last week former Transport Minister Conor Murphy said he saw no reason why the work could not proceed.

He also confirmed that he had budgeted for the full project during his term in office.

On taking up the ministry in 2007, Mr Murphy ordered that an imposed restriction on investment in the 33-mile section of the track be scrapped, freeing the way for investment.

Despite £20m being set aside by the department under current minister Danny Kennedy to start the work in 2014/15, no firm commitment has been given by the Executive that the full funding will definitely be available to complete the project.

Padraig Canavan, president of the chamber, said: "The chamber wishes to express its appreciation of the manner in which the Telegraph has continued to pursue this story, which is of enormous importance to the population of the north west.

"The chamber remains very concerned at the failure of the Department for Regional Development to proceed with the upgrade of the Derry-Londonderry rail line to Coleraine, as promised by the last Regional Development Minister, Conor Murphy. We note Conor Murphy's comments that he sees no reason why the upgrade cannot go ahead as originally planned.

"It is essential that we all understand what has gone wrong here and to get the upgrade 'back on track'.

"We therefore call on the Assembly's regional development committee to investigate the matter and establish why the funds for this investment have apparently disappeared, and where they have gone to.

"We hope the outcome of such an investigation will lead to the investment being reinstated in the department's budget."

He added: "The chamber intends to write to the regional development committee chair, Mr Jimmy Spratt MLA, to request that such an investigation takes place."

Belfast Telegraph

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