Giant's Causeway and Bushmills line extension gets go ahead
Published 02/01/2012 | 00:37
It's full steam ahead for a plan to extend a tourist railway line between two of Northern Ireland's most popular visitor attractions.
Planners have approved the changes to the Giant's Causeway and Bushmills Railway company's line in Co Antrim, despite a small number of objections.
Bushmills DUP councillor David McAllister has welcomed the plans, which will mean an extension of the railway line south from the existing Bushmills railway halt.
There were just five letters of objection lodged.
Planning officer Julie McMath said objections included concerns about air pollution and noise from the train.
Councillor McAllister said he is pleased permission has been given. He said: "I am delighted to see this coming through and it is an exciting project.
"It has been earmarked for many, many years and I look forward to it operating in the summer."
The Giant's Causeway is currently Northern Ireland's top visitor attraction and Bushmills, just two miles away, is home to the world famous whiskey distillery which is also a big tourist draw.
The tourist railway line has used both steam and diesel power and has had tens of thousands of visitors.
The Giant's Causeway and Bushmills Railway follows the breathtaking two-mile extension of the original Giant's Causeway and Bushmills Hydro Electric Tram track.
A new locomotive and passenger coaches arrived last year and were designed to recreate - as far as possible - the passenger experience of the original hydro-electric tram, providing a nostalgic journey linking the historic town of Bushmills to the World Heritage site at the Giant's Causeway.
The fascinating pattern in the Giant's Causeway stones is a result of rock crystallisation under conditions of accelerated cooling; this usually occurs when molten lava comes into immediate contact with water. The resulting fast cooling causes cracking and results in what we see today. Legend states that it was formed by the ancient Irish hero Finn MacCool after being challenged to a fight by a Scottish giant. A similar rock formation can be seen inside a Scottish sea cave on the other side of the Irish Sea.