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‘Greenway of Thrones’ project to breathe new life into abandoned north coast railway line

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Bridge at Ballycastle with existing rambling path on old Ballycastle Railway line (Local Democracy Reporting Service)

Bridge at Ballycastle with existing rambling path on old Ballycastle Railway line (Local Democracy Reporting Service)

Sinn Fein councillor Cara McShane

Sinn Fein councillor Cara McShane

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Bridge at Ballycastle with existing rambling path on old Ballycastle Railway line (Local Democracy Reporting Service)

A £4.4M “Greenway of Thrones” project is aiming to revive a section of railway on the north coast.

Under the terms of the scheme, the route of the former Ballycastle to Ballymoney line will be redeveloped.

Sinn Fein councillor Cara McShane said: “The greenway is an exciting and ambitious plan that will provide approximately 30km of off-road routes for pedestrians and cyclists along the former railway line between Ballycastle and Ballymoney.

“This project is expected to help tackle social inequalities, improve health and wellbeing and provide a safe and environmentally friendly link for effective everyday travel.

“Learning from the experiences of other greenways across these islands, the Greenway of Thrones will be a significant tourist attraction, providing an alternative route for visitors to access popular locations, including the Dark Hedges.

“The economic spin-off is also significant. Benefits will include new employment opportunities such as cafes and refreshment breaks at entry and exit points, walking and cycling tour guides and the maintenance of the greenway.

“Following competition of a feasibility study, the council has now progressed work on an outline business case and has engaged in significant route-mapping exercises.

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“Over the next few months, the council will lead on a comprehensive consultation plan to engage with communities along the extent of the proposed greenway corridor and with landowners who will be central to the deliverability of the greenway.”

Sinn Fein MLA Philip McGuigan added: “I welcome the news of movement on this greenway project and the fact that the council now has a timetable to ensure progress is made.

“I am an enthusiastic supporter of the benefits of greenways to local communities.

"The potential of the greenway from Ballycastle to Ballymoney is limitless. To go beyond active travel and health benefits, [it will] provide a major economic and tourist boost to the two host towns, as well as the villages and hamlets along the route.

“It is imperative that the council works in a positive way with local communities and landowners right from the start to protect and build on this momentum.”

The narrow-gauge Ballycastle Railway opened in 1880 and operated passenger and freight services for almost 70 years until it was closed by the Ulster Transport Authority in 1950.


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