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04 Jul 2022

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring about balanced regional development"

Council sets out its transformative vision proposals as part of All Island Rail Review

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring about balanced regional development"

Council calls for rail routes from Derry to cities all over the island of Ireland as part of City Deal

Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council's Governance and Strategic Planning Committee have given their endorsement to Council's vision for the future of rail on the island of Ireland.

The vision document is the Council's Corporate response to the 'All Island Strategic Rail Review' that is currently out for consultation and was presented to members of the Committee today for review and approval.

The Council calls for the Rail Review to recommend increased speed and frequency of rail services to and from Derry and Belfast, along with seamless onward connections to and from Dublin on the existing line, as well as a future direct connection to Dublin via Strabane and Omagh.

It also calls for rail connections from Derry to Letterkenny and onwards to Sligo and the Galway Atlantic Corridor and for a suburban rail service providing routes for Derry and the wider North West City Region to Letterkenny, Strabane, Coleraine etc, with halts at Eglinton and at the City of Derry Airport.

The Council highlighted the need for the provision of freight services to and from the city and Foyle Port and the other ports and cities on the island.

Council also called for the installation of direct connections to halts and stations at both Belfast International Airport and Dublin Airport for any existing or future planned routes.

In its detailed response, the Council outlined the need for a commitment of funding and the implementation of a feasibility study into all of the investment proposals to address the infrastructural and connectivity deficit to Derry and the wider North West.

It stated that the review needs to consider the future potential of the City and Region to sustainably accommodate projected population growth, while in parallel delivering on its obligations to provide balanced regional development and climate change obligations.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Alderman Graham Warke said the review of Rail is timely and the Council's feedback to the consultation is significantly important in calling for improved and sustainable connectivity between the major cities on the island.

Mayor Warke said a key element of the Council's response is to ensure that the review addresses decarbonisation in the transport sector through a low carbon society that focuses on improved connectivity to the North West region.

Mayor Warke continued: "The rail issue is a hugely important one and something that we all have been campaigning for.

"We recognise the importance of rail connectivity and the need to enhance regional accessibility if we are to achieve our targets and ambitions set out in our City Deal and Strategic Growth Plan for a better future across our city region. 

"The Rail Review offers an opportunity to enhance links between the main cities north and south of this island and improve rural development and connectivity as well as bring about the efficient movement of people, which in turn will bring about jobs and economic prosperity."

The Chairperson of the Governance and Strategic Planning Committee, Councillor Martin Reilly, also welcomed the Council's corporate response to the Rail Review. 

He said that with continued collaboration with Donegal County Council and other Councils, Derry City and Strabane District Council recognises the importance of the Rail Review.

He said the review presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring about balanced regional development and much needed investment in rail connectivity.

Mr Reilly said: "It is essential that we nurture this unique opportunity to make a real difference to how we invest in rail infrastructure across the island to improve connectivity and accessibility and see major investment that will link in to our international gateways and also look at the development of rail freight opportunities.  

"As a City and region, we are working to address the inequalities of the past and to overcome the legacy of underinvestment and believe that an efficient rail system will go some way towards allowing our region to grow and prosper."

John Kelpie, Chief Executive with Derry City and Strabane District Council, said investment in rail and all modes of transport are an integral part of the Council's ambitious and transformative vision for the city region's future.

Mr Kelpie said: "The Council continues to be proactive in clearly setting out its goals and objectives for the future by ensuring rail investment and connectivity is at the heart of all our strategic planning and policies. 

"We are currently advancing and delivering ambitious growth proposals through our City Deal agreement and are of the firm belief that significantly improved efficient and direct connectivity for people and freight to and from Derry and the wider North West region to other key cities, ports and airports on this island is an essential step in our transformational journey. 

"The Council also recognises the importance of connectivity and accessibility particularly in our rural communities and the impact this can have on the quality of life of our citizens and our local environment and place-making."

He concluded that he hoped the Rail Review will consider in detail the Council's position and avail of this unique opportunity to transform the future of rail across the island.

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