Belfast Telegraph

Great and good on board as rail line crusade speeds up

By Brendan McDaid

Influential people from the north west are set to pack onto a Derry train to demand the rail line is upgraded by 2013.

Business leaders, politicians and community activists will be among those setting off for Belfast for a showdown at the Department for Regional Development.

It comes as fears grow that if the line is not fixed for Derry’s inaugural year as UK City of Culture, it will be closed within a few years.

Derry Mayor Maurice Devenney was among those to express concerns.

He spoke at a packed meeting of concerned local people who vowed to organise the railway rally to the DRD headquarters within the next four weeks, as well as a petition, and a visit to Stormont to lobby MLAs.

Mr Devenney said: “My worry is if this line is closed for any period of time it may never recover. This is a very, very important issue for the city of Londonderry.

“ The importance of this railway line to us during the UK City of Culture year and beyond cannot be overstated.”

Into The West spokesman Eamonn McCann told the meeting it could well be “now or never” for the Derry line.

He said: “There is a very distinct possibility we are not going to have a rail line in a few years.”

He added that 12 miles of the Cumbria line in England was upgraded in 16 days. “We have 30 miles and they are talking about closing the line for a year. It could be done in three months” Mr McCann said.

“Everybody is in favour of this — everybody at Stormont, all parties, Derry City Council, all interested groups are behind this, there is nobody making statements opposing this, so how come it is not being done?

“The only thing that is going to do it is pressure from below. If the worst comes to the worst, I am game for anything. Whatever has to be done should be done.”

Factfile

If you want to support our Keep Derry On Track campaign, get in touch with us. It is crucial that as many passengers as possible let Northern Ireland’s politicians know how important the rail service is. Please email: nweditorial@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

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