News

No new rail link for Armagh before 2030

Thursday, 3 August 2017

TRANSLINK chiefs have delivered a blow to the people of Armagh by announcing they have no planned extensions to the network before 2030.

Thousands of people had signed a petition and local politicians have been lobbying for some time now to have the Armagh to Portadown railway line reopened. However it appears that these efforts will be in vain.

The news will be a blow to the ABC Council as well as they are keen to promote Armagh's tourism offering however if fewer tourists can reach the city by train when they arrive in Belfast then this will hamper those efforts.

The news came as SDLP Assembly Member for Newry and Armagh Justin McNulty met with the Chief Executive of Translink, Chris Conway to discuss rail service improvements to the constituency.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr McNulty said, "I met with the Chief Executive of Translink Chris Conway and his top team to press for improved rail services to Newry and Armagh. During our discussion I raised the issue of the extension of the rail network from Portadown to Armagh City. I was deeply disappointed to learn that Translink and the Department for Infrastructure have no plans to expand the rail network before 2030.

"Armagh needs a rail link, but it is just not a priority for the Department or Translink at present. They made it very clear that other areas would take priority for investment such as improved services on the Larne Line and indeed the electrification of the Belfast to Dublin line. In fact, the line to Antrim, which would take in Belfast International Airport would also take priority.

"But the fact that it doesn't even feature in any capital programmes before 2030 makes it very unlikely to be developed in advance of that.

"Armagh is a modern city and it needs investment in its infrastructure. That includes the Armagh East and West Link Roads together with the upgrading of the Armagh-Portadown Road as well as rail services from Portadown to Armagh and beyond.

"At a time when the UK Government are investing millions in the HS2 line linking London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester, our Executive, when it was functioning, didn't prioritise investment in our rail network. This is something which much be reviewed by a new Executive. Our economy and our environment would benefit from this investment and it must be prioritised."

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