Over £1 billion transport investment planned for North West
There is now a commitment to infrastructure investment in the city of Derry and the North West that can reassure all the people in the region. That was the message that Sinn Féin Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy delivered when he visited the city today.
He underscored the message by highlighting that 300 people are already tasked with progressing the A5 and A6 schemes and also announced that £86million will be invested in the railway line reducing times between Belfast and Derry by half an hour.
Speaking to an audience from Derry City Council and Derry Chamber of Commerce, Minister Conor Murphy said:
"Investment in transport is a key driver of economic development and I'm determined to address regional disparities in infrastructure investment. This planned investment of over £1billion is a real commitment to high quality road and public transport linkages and is crucial to sustain economic growth and competitiveness.
"Several key roads schemes will significantly benefit the North West. The scale of the A5 project is unprecedented in Ireland, providing 88km of new dual carriageway from Aughnacloy to Derry at an estimated cost in excess of £600million, significantly improving journey times and safety on the journey to and from Dublin. Already some 200 people are working on the project and a preferred route will be chosen by mid 2009.
"I welcome the £400million contribution from the Irish Government which will assist in funding this A5 project."
The minister also outlined plans for the £300million A6 Derry to Dungiven dual carriageway. Over 100 people are currently developing route options for this 30km scheme and after further consultation the announcement of the preferred route is expected by summer of next year. He also advised that public inquiries into the schemes from Castledawson to Toome and Toome to Randalstown had been held last year.
When these schemes are completed, around 75% of the road from Derry to Belfast will be to a minimum of dual carriageway standard, greatly improving journey times between the two cities.
In addition the minister announced that a further study will commence shortly to explore potential linkages from the A6 at Drumahoe to the A5 and will take account of the potential for improved linkages to the west. He also indicated that the A2 Broadbridge scheme which will improve access to the City of Derry Airport, should be substantially completed by 2010/11.
On rail, the minister said when he came into office he had removed a restriction on investment on the railway line. He added:
"Around £86million will be invested in infrastructure and additional trains for the Belfast to Derry line over the next five years.
"This will involve a complete relay of the line between Coleraine and Derry, the provision of a passing loop and the introduction of a further two new train sets for the route. This will allow more frequent train services with a commuter service going into Derry before 9am for the first time and will allow journey times to Belfast to be reduced by half an hour.
"Investments in new trains have already had a major impact on passenger numbers. I am determined to build on this and to provide the basis for a first class railway service for the people of the North West."
Conor Murphy also recognised the importance of the local airport and port to the city.
"My department and the Irish Government have paid a grant of around £2million to Derry City Council which should secure the future of the airport for the benefit of the local people and the economy. I'm also delighted to note that the local port has created a North West logistics hub with plans to facilitate increased cargo handling and storage facilities."
The minister added: "This is an exciting time for Derry and its people. The city is developing quickly economically and socially, underpinned by a strong local vision. I hope that I can continue to play a part in assisting the growth of Derry and the whole North West region." ENDS