Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Railway investment pressure mounting

£87m funds 'would be recouped in five years'

The Government was today coming under mounting pressure to invest in the North West's railway network, as a report claims that an £87m investment would be recouped within five years.

The details are outlined in a report to be unveiled tonight by Brian Guckian, a top transport economist based in Dublin.

It was commissioned by Into The West, a campaign group that is stepping up pressure on the Government to make the necessary investment to safeguard the Coleraine-to-Londonderry line. The findings will be made public at a meeting that starts at the City Hotel tonight, at 8pm.

"It is vital that the Government moves to invest in the railway link as a matter of urgency," said Mr McBride, a spokesman for Into The West.

In his study, Mr Guckian noted that investment in the Belfast-to-Derry main line was recommended by Booz Allen Hamilton's (BAH) Northern Ireland Railways Strategic Review in 2004 under its 'Expanded Offering' concept.

Mr Guckian said: "My own study, based on other Booz Allen Hamilton data, has shown that investment in the main line as a whole would generate five times the investment amount in environmental benefits.

"The BAH investment figure of £87m for upgrading the portion of the main line between Coleraine and Derry would be recouped in a five-year period, based on benefits accrued, also from my study."

Mr Guckian will tonight outline how funding for the upgrade can be sourced, and said: "My presentation will advocate additional enhancement of the main line, including hourly clockface services, a reduction in journey times to two hours, re-opening of the former Waterside Station in Derry, a station for Derry City airport, park and ride at Limavady junction with a new commuter service into Derry, a new railfreight connection at Lisahally and the rail link to Belfast International Airport.

"I will also cover extension of the railway to Letterkenny and Sligo, and a plan for internal extension of the NI railways network."

Tonight's event comes on the eve of plans to travel to Stormont by an umbrella lobby group involving local councils to urge the Northern Ireland Executive to invest in the line to Derry. The Northern Corridor Railways Group launched its own report recently at a seminar in Derry.

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