Major rail upgrade on Coleraine line

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Work on a second major upgrade to the Coleraineto Londonderry railway line is to begin in May, Translink has confirmed.

The company’s chief executive David Strahan confirmed the start date as he gave evidence to a Northern Ireland Assembly inquiry into the rail project.

The inquiry was set up last year to examine why the cost of the upgrade has almost doubled from its original estimate of around £20m to £40m.

Translink staff were questioned by Regional Development Committee members.

Lasy Tuesday members of the committee travelled to the hearing in Derry by train, taking the opportunity to speak to passengers about any issues on the rail line.

The second stage of the upgrade involves major re-signalling between Derry and Coleraine and the introduction of a passing loop.

The work is due to be completed in 2016.

In a statement, a Translink spokesperson said: “Appearing today at the Committee for Regional Development, Translink confirmed that, subject to the successful completion of a tender process, work on phase 2 of the project to relay the railway line between Coleraine and Derry is expected to commence in May 2015.

Committee member John Dallat MLA said Derry needed a proper inter-city service and added he was looking forward to a “new era for the north west”.

Mr Dallat said: “I hope that the city of Derry and all the towns in-between will have a new rail service by 2016.

“It’s not a dream it’s a reality and I’m absolutely confident because I know that no other city in the world doesn’t have a decent inter-city service.”

Last year, Translink said an hourly service on the route was a “priority”.

Senior representatives of the company were questioned alongside government officials at the Derry hearing.