Long term future of railway line must be secured says MP

The DUP’s East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell has written to the Regional Development Minister, Danny Kennedy, following the announcement by Translink about the reduction in services on the Coleraine to Londonderry line over the next 18 months to two years.

Mr Campbell told the Times: “I met recently with senior Translink officials regarding this announcement and it appears that at the centre of the problem is the £75 million funding which had been anticipated would be available for the line upgrade and safety works and now this resource is not forthcoming as a result of the budget cuts.

“I have now written to the Minister asking him to ensure that the longer term viability of the line is secured, it is one thing having to put up with a reduced service for a period of time while some limited safety and improvement works can be car ried out and then the funding obtained for the major works required, but the Minister needs to be aware of the acute sensitivity that exists in the North West about the rail line itself.”

Mr Campbell went on to reveal: “Some ten years ago when I was DRD Minister I was presented with a number of options one of which was closure of the line ‘north of Ballymena’, this effectively would have meant no rail services from Londonderry through Bellarena to Castlerock, Coleraine and up to Ballymena as well as the Portrush branch line. This was totally unacceptable and I rejected that option.

“Since then with the addition of new trains there has been steady growth in passenger numbers on the line and this needs to continue with the introduction of more new trains, a one hourly service and a passing loop in the Eglinton/Ballykelly area.

“Most people understand that at a time of severe financial restrictions a range of considerations are brought to th e fore but it is absolutely imperative that the Minister commits as soon as possible to the sustainability and improvement of the rail service for this and future generations.”