06 Jul 2022

Derry station breaks into top 10 for the first time

Derry station breaks into top 10 for the first time

The Waterside Railway Station is the North's ninth busiest railway station

Local campaigners are celebrating the news that Derry now has one of Northern Ireland's 10 busiest rail stations for the first time ever.

Figures secured from Translink by Into The West show that for the year 2021-22 – ending March 31 – Waterside Station carried a total of 467,001 passengers, making it the North's ninth busiest station.

This saw Derry move up four places on the previous year, overtaking key commuter stations like Antrim, Lurgan. Carrickfergus and Portrush in the process.

The ninth place finish is the highest that Derry’s station has ever achieved, and a major milestone in its continual rise in popularity over the last five years from when it was ranked only 17th (2016-17).

Campaigners are confident that Derry can continue moving up the rankings, with Waterside Station now only 7,500 passengers behind Ballymena – meaning an average increase of only 21 passengers a day would see Derry overtake them for 8th place.

Chairman of rail extention campaign group, Into The Westm, Steve Bradley said: “News that Derry is now the ninth busiest station in Northern Ireland is a huge vote of confidence in rail, and proof of the untapped demand for it within our city.

“Ever since Derry got the hourly service to Belfast in 2018 and the new station in 2019, our city has been the star performer for rail growth on this island.

“It’s important to acknowledge, however, that this success comes despite the many limitations that continue to hold-back rail locally.

“We still have trains that can only travel in one direction, due to Derry being at the end of the line.

“We still have no other stations within 20 miles of our city, which reduces its viability for work, leisure and shopping.

“Our rail service is slower than road for travel to Belfast. We still offer only one train every 2hrs on Sundays, whilst everywhere from Coleraine eastwards has an hourly frequency.

Into The West are campaigning for the North's rail network to be expanded westwards

“We still have far fewer early morning and late evening trains to Belfast than much smaller towns like Portrush or Coleraine.

“Just think what the demand for rail from our city would be with faster and more frequent trains – services direct to Tyrone, Donegal and Dublin and a network of commuter halts in places like Strathfoyle, Ballykelly and Newbuildings to make rail viable for Derry’s hinterland.

“That is the vision which Into the West is working hard to see delivered, and we call on the newly elected MLAs for Foyle and neighbouring constituencies to work with us on bringing it to life.”

Figures from Translink also show that rail passenger demand from Derry recovered much faster after Covid than it did at other stations on the Derry-Belfast line, with numbers locally now above where they were before the pandemic.

Staff on the railway have also reported a particular increase in rail demand over the last couple of months, which Into The West believe is due to the rising cost of fuel. Bradley added: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has seen the price of oil shoot up and that has coincided with a noticeable increase in people using the train from Derry and elsewhere.

“It’s clear that rail is now the low-cost, convenient and stress-free way to journey between Northern Ireland's two main cities, and a great way to beat the cost of living crisis when travelling.”

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