ALLIANCE is showing its support for local railways tomorrow by hiring a carriage to transport members by train to the party’s Annual General Meeting in Derry.
The party is campaigning for the under-threat rail lines north of Ballymena (to Coleraine and Londonderry) and north of Whitehead (to Larne) – the so-called ‘non-core network’ – to be retained and improved.
Alliance’s Transport Spokesperson Alderman John Mathews said: “Alliance is a strong supporter of public transport and today we want to show our support for railways in a very practical way.
“There is a threat hanging over the railway network north of Ballymena, and also to the line north of Whitehead to Larne. There is little point in the Government investing millions in new trains if it doesn’t intend to further develop the 150-year-old asset that our railways represent.
“The Government wants to make these northern routes appear unprofitable, but the only reason for that would be due to inadequate investment over the past three decades and lacklustre marketing. The line most at threat is the scenic stretch from Coleraine, west to Derry, which we’re travelling on today. One only has to think of the potential of an express line through Derry to Belfast and on to Dublin to realise what a loss this would be.
“It seems totally crazy to consider breaking up such a valuable asset that could be the flagship for a return to public transport. The argument against railways is made entirely on simplistic cost-saving measures, but what we should be doing is realising the enormous potential that is under-utilised. Let’s get our railways back on track!”