Cllr Naomi Long MLA, Alliance Spokesperson for Regional Development, has expressed her Party’s opposition to the apparent intention of the Department of Regional Development to close “non-core” rail lines, as she submitted the Alliance Party’s response to the Railway Review Group’s report on the future investment of the Northern Ireland railway network today.
Naomi Long said:
“The entire rail network has suffered from decades of underinvestment. The lack of Government emphasis on public transport generally and on rail specifically has left us a legacy of poorly maintained track, with the result that speed restrictions are required along many sections. This situation needs to be redressed, in order that the rail network can operate at peak efficiency and compete with road-based transport alternatives. People will not get out of their cars if a viable alternative is not in place.
“If we look at countries with successful integrated public transportation systems, they are built on the core of an efficient rail transport network. As we have seen in other regions, mothballing railway lines invariably leads to closure and to further shrinkage of core services.
“Instead, there must be routine maintenance and investment of the network, combined with a comprehensive marketing strategy, an approach endorsed by transportation industry professionals. Such development of our rail network has the potential to bring huge environmental and economic benefits. With vision and investment, the stretch of line between Portrush and Derry, for example, could be exploited and marketed as a major tourist resource, following as it does one of the most scenic routes in these islands.
“The discussion on Northern Ireland’s rail network should be one focused on development and expansion. Alliance will continue to fight to save our railways.”
The Alliance Party response to the Railways Review Groups report can be read on the party’s website: http://www.allianceparty.org/showconsultation.asp?id=23