Belfast Telegraph

Rail campaigners jump on board to get historic Londonderry site back on track

By Donna Deeney

The lobby group that helped save the Londonderry to Coleraine railway line 15 years ago has launched a new campaign to see a Victorian station brought back to use as a working terminus.

While the building is not in danger from demolition, and is included in Translink's plans for a transport hub in Derry, it is not to be used as the arrival and departure point for trains - its original purpose.

Eamonn McCann from Into The West was among the speakers at a public meeting to launch the group's drive.

He said: "The campaign to save the historic Waterside train station as a working rail terminus may seem a minor issue compared to other problems crowding in on Derry, but what happens to the station will be a measure of what's happening to Derry itself.

"We have here a precious architectural jewel, which can only shine in its proper setting.

"If it's reduced to a relic, deprived of its real purpose, it will no longer be a living part of the city. The station is a product of the labour and imagination of Derry people, a bequest inherited from history.

"It has survived cutbacks and bombing assaults, and stands as symbol and substance of the resilient history of our city.

"We should pass it on to those who come after us in good working condition.

"The fact that such highly regarded organisations as the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society and Foyle Civic Trust have joined with us to appeal for a rethink by the authorities on this matter shows that this is not a minor issue at all, but is an issue of concern for citizens generally."

In September Translink received €23.5 million (£21m) funding through the INTERREG VA Programme for the creation of a transport hub. But Mr McCann claimed the transport provider's plans were unsympathetic.

He said: "What Translink are planning to do is to run the trains up the side of the building but they won't come into the building at all. There will also be a car park for 100 cars along the river.

"What is planned is a wilderness of parked cars and parked trains and concrete instead of uninterrupted views of across the river. This is a huge misuse of a terrific site which has now been reopened.

"But we took years to convince the authorities to do that, so it is so important that this station is once again the working station it was built for in 1873."

A Translink spokesman said: “The former Waterside Station (1870s Grade 2 listed building) and wider site will be the location for a new North-West Multimodal Transport Hub.

“It will be an important gateway to the North West for visitors and will regenerate the local area, making it more attractive to business and investors, creating jobs and enhancing the economy.

“Our plans for the North-West Multi Modal Transport Hub have been put to public consultation, where they received widespread support from the community.

“The plans for this complex project sympathetically restore and incorporate the original listed Waterside station, with a contemporary entrance infill where part of the structure was rebuilt in the 1980s after bomb damage, opening up this significant listed building to the community.

“Due to technical reasons, the plans allow for platforms alongside the building, which will also mean shorter walking distances for passengers.

“The planned Park and Ride and bus stops outside the station will provide essential facilities for passengers and will open up views from the station to the river.”

Belfast Telegraph

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