City of Culture Derry could be without a rail link
There are fears that Londonderry may be without its rail link at the start of its reign as UK City of Culture.
It has emerged a year-long programme of improvements to the Londonderry Coleraine line is not due for completion until April 2013, closing it down well into the title year.
The railway station in the city lies close to the Ebrington site which is to be one of the main staging grounds for the City of Culture celebrations.
Transport Minister Conor Murphy said the dates of the closure will be reviewed when the project receives approval to commence work on the site.
He said the Department of Finance and Personel is assessing whether the Track Renewals project is value for money.
However, nervousness remains that one of the main gateways to the city may be shut off if work is not completed in time for the opening ceremonies.
SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has written to Mr Murphy on the issue.
Mr Durkan said: “There are obvious concerns if the rail network is to be closed for a year, especially if such a closure coincides with Derry becoming the UK City of Culture in January 2013. Disruption must be kept to a minimum.
A Department for Regional Development spokesperson said: “The planning process will take into consideration that 2013 will be the UK City of Culture for Derry and depending on budgets, Translink will consider options to speed up the work, such as night working.”