Derry not a lesser used line – it is a core service between Derry and Belfast” Raymond McCartney MLA
Speaking on an Assembly motion calling on Minister Danny Kennedy to ensure the future of the Derry/Belfast rail link, Raymond McCartney MLA (Foyle) said:
“This is a welcome motion on an important issue, particularly important to the people of Derry. I welcome the Minister’s recent statements and, indeed, his commitment to the line, but what we need to see now is delivery on that commitment.
“Until recently — indeed, up until Conor Murphy became the Minister for Regional Development — the Derry view was that there were always questions around the future of the line.
Mapping out the chronology of events since the first Assembly Mr McCartney continued;
“An options paper was put to the Executive in 2001. We all sometimes have memory lapses, and I know that some Members here have recently displayed that they have memory lapses. They will find that an options paper was put to the Executive, and that is where the terminology around “lesser-used line” and “more-used line” emerged and confusion crept in. However, when Conor Murphy went into office, he removed that uncertainty. He lifted the restriction on investment and the label that the Derry line was ‘lesser used’ was put to bed. It is not a lesser-used line; it is a core service to Derry and Belfast and beyond.
“Conor Murphy also made a commitment to the North West. He visited Derry, as the current Minister did, and listened to the views of the people. He heard from right across the spectrum about issues that the people of Derry felt needed to be tackled to ensure that regional disparity and the inequalities of the past were brought to an end and to service the regeneration that would allow the economy of Derry and the north-west to grow. At the heart of that was roads infrastructure and the airport but also the railway.
“We need to send a clear signal that the original proposal is still there and still necessary. Progress on the commitment to tackle regional disparity, which the Executive made in the previous mandate and which the current Executive continue to make, will be clearly seen in how we advance the project to enhance the Derry to Coleraine railway line.
“At the meeting in the Guildhall in Derry, the Minister heard that people will be supportive of any attempts that he makes to deliver the project. The project must be carried out in such a way that the line is completed. The Minister would have heard that when he came to Derry. We all know that the City of Culture is coming to Derry in 2013. We all know that there is massive tourist potential as a result and that the line must be working at its maximum.
“The numbers of passengers using the line will be boosted as a result of the City of Culture in 2013. The tourism legacy of 2013 will be boosted by delivering the Derry to Coleraine line.” CRÍOCH