The Infrastructure Minister has said she is looking at funding to get phase 3 of the Derry-Coleraine line 'back on track'.
Last year rail lobby group Into the West was disappointed when it was announced that the phase 3 upgrade to the railway line had been abandoned.
Into the West says work to modernise the track was originally planned for 2013, but would have impacted Derry's year as City of Culture.
The job was therefore split into three distinct phases instead:
- Phase 1 – Completed early 2013.
- Phase 2 – Completed 2016, and enabled hourly trains to run from Derry, Castlerock and Bellarena.
- Phase 3 – Supposed to happen in 2021, but funding wasn't allocated before Stormont collapsed (2017).
The Department for Infrastructure then stated that the third and final phase of work to upgrade Derry’s train line would be shelved until at least 2027.
Speaking about the issue of phase 3 today, Nichola Mallon said: “As we look forward with hope and Northern Ireland looks to get back on track, I’ve ensured that my commitment to addressing regional imbalance is realised by getting the Derry-Coleraine Phase 3 rail line back on track too."
The Minister has outlined the challenges facing her resource budget, as she sets out her plans to support communities through recovery, while promoting economic growth and transformation through capital spend.
In a statement to the Assembly today, Minister Mallon confirmed her department needs much more on resource to support the public transport network and NI Water.
The Minister however on the capital side, outlined an 'ambitious programme' of investment including a £20m fund for blue/green infrastructure as well as funding for road safety measures, street lights and potholes.
Her announcements include the creation of a 'transformation pot' with support for greenways and £30m for low emission buses, crucial investment in flagship projects and strategic roads across the north, a rural roads pot, 100 schools to benefit from 20mph speed limits scheme and funding to get phase 3 of the Derry – Coleraine line back on track.
Welcoming the announcement Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan said it was a clear signal of support for the North West.
Mr Durkan said: "SDLP Minister Nichola Mallon has listened to the calls of the people of Derry and the wider North West and has announced today investment to support a feasibility study of the phase three of the Derry - Coleraine line.
"Minister Mallon has set us back on track - on the next step for our journey into the West. This clear signal from the Minister to support the people of this area, connecting our communities and ultimately leading to growth - is to be welcomed by all across our city."
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