Students back Derry on Track rail campaign
Students across Northern Ireland have thrown their weight behind the Belfast Telegraph's Keep Derry on Track campaign for a major upgrade to the crucial rail link between Londonderry and Coleraine.
The University of Ulster has campuses at all three key stops along the route - Magee in Derry, Coleraine and Jordanstown in Belfast - and with just weeks until thousands of students return to study, the impact of a reduced service is a huge concern for the Students' Union.
President Claire Flanagan said the Union is worried about how a planned reduction in the number of trains operating between Derry and Coleraine will affect students who commute for classes.
"A large number of students use the train, not just between Coleraine and Derry but between both these towns and Belfast as well, in both directions," said Ms Flanagan.
"We would be concerned that the new timetable coming into play in January next year will not suit our students who live in Derry, but attend university in Coleraine and commute rather than stay in Coleraine.
"A reduction in service will not leave them on campus in time for lectures or may not offer suitable times for travelling home. Students like to travel by train because they normally have a lot of luggage with them and buses can be difficult if you have a couple of rucksacks and maybe a laptop.
"Realistically, I don't envisage very many students who would usually take the train to Belfast getting on a bus to Coleraine and then getting on the train for the rest of the journey.
"Anyone who is at any of these stations on a Friday evening or a Sunday evening will see for themselves just how many students depend on rail travel."
SDLP Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey has said that the Derry-Coleraine railway line issue must address the disruption that over 350 Derry-based students who attend the University of Ulster at Coleraine might encounter if the line is downgraded or decoupled.
If you want to support our Keep Derry On Track campaign, please get in touch. 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