SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan is to argue the case for expanding the North’s rail infrastructure to the west when he meets with the Department of Infrastructure.
Mr McCrossan wants to see Strabane and Omagh linked up with Derry to help advance access to the rest of the island and expressed his views on extending the rail network in a letter to the department.
He said, “Railways are very important to modern travel and the west stands out when looking at the rail infrastructure across the North.
“We need to connect our communities in the west through rail and not congested roads. We need to connect to our rural communities and allow people to travel for work. We need to support and find innovative ways to increase social mobility and employment here.”
However, in a written response from the Department of Infrastructure, Permanent Secretary Peter May stated, “The immediate priority for railways expenditure will remain to maintain, improve and upgrade the existing network, and even this is likely to be difficult within the resources currently available.”
Mr May also referred to a rail strategy document published in 2014 which concluded that it was not ‘economically viable to establish new rail links’ in Tyrone and Fermanagh.
Still, a meeting has been secured between the SDLP MLA and Tom Reid, director of Transport Strategy Directorate, to discuss this issue further. Mr McCrossan concluded, “I will be arguing the case for expanding the rail network west, especially from Derry to Strabane. After all, this is only 14 miles and can run in conjunction to the new A5 road. We can connect people here to Derry, Belfast and to Dublin.”